Monday, November 22, 2010

Fort Benning Protest

The N.Y. Times published this interesting article today, about the annual demonstration at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia.  Protesters have been gathering there for years to protest the training of Latin American military officers at the school of the Americas, which is affiliated with the Department of Defense.  The article reports on the dwindling number of protesters, and some possible reasons for the decrease in activity.  These include the bad economy, the apathy of young people, and the school's own efforts to engage the public and to draw attention away from the instruction they are providing.  Also among the likely reasons for the decline:  A more aggressive police response to protesters, and the imposition of jail terms for some of those who trespassed on the base.  Recently, a small group of protesters tried to draw attention to their cause by demonstrating in the public streets.  They were  arrested, as were several other protesters who apparently failed to follow police instructions following a parade.  The Fort Benning story highlights many of the challenges faced by modern protesters.  Only some of these relate to protest policing.  What was perhaps most surprising to me was the longevity of the Fort Benning demonstrations.  Public contention of this sort requires no small commitment, and some traveled long distances to be a part of this event.                   

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