Nuclear Resister/Torture On Trial: Ft. Huachuca Protest Trial Postponed; Defendant Priests Ordered to Attend Pretrial Hearing Instead
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2007
CONTACT: Nuclear Resister/Torture On Trial
Jack or Felice Cohen-Joppa
Ft. Huachuca Protest Trial Postponed; Defendant Priests Ordered to
Attend Pretrial Hearing Instead
ARIZONA - JUNE 1 - The June 6 trial in U.S. District Court, Tucson, for two
Roman Catholic priests arrested at a protest last November at Fort
Huachuca has been postponed. Instead, Fr. Louis Vitale and Fr.
Stephen Kelly have been ordered to appear at 9 a.m. that same day in
U.S. Magistrate Hector Estrada's court for a hearing on pretrial
Supporters of the priests will join them at 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, June 6, for a brief morning support rally in the courtyard
in front of the U.S. District Court, 405 W. Congress St.
It is anticipated that military prosecutor Capt. Evan Simone
may reintroduce a motion to have the priests jailed pending trial,
for which a new date will be set at the June 6 hearing. The two are
charged with federal trespass and an Arizona state charge of failure
to comply with a police officer following their attempt to speak with
enlisted personnel and deliver a letter denouncing torture and the
Military Commissions Act of 2006 to Major General Barbara Fast,
commander at Fort Huachuca, on November 19, 2006.
On Tuesday, June 5, supporters are invited to join the
defendants and others for a Festival of Hope for a future free from
the terror and injustice of torture. The Festival of Hope begins at
6 p.m. at St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. 3rd St., Tucson. A
potluck meal in Geneva Hall will be followed by a 7 p.m. program in
the church sanctuary. Speakers at the Festival of Hope will include
torture survivor Orlando Tizon, (Assistant Director, Torture
Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International), human
rights attorney William Quigley (Loyola University, New Orleans),
retired U.S. Army Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, and defendants Fr.
Louis Vitale and Fr. Stephen Kelly. Music will be provided by San
Francisco cultural worker Francisco Herrera and Tucson musician Ted
The defendants and all of the speakers will be available for
media interviews in midtown Tucson on Tuesday afternoon, June 5.
Please call 323-8697 for arrangements.
For more information, visit http://TortureOnTrial.org
Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM
With a background in sociology and a focus on the Sociology
of Religion and social movements, Louie is a long time social
activist. A Franciscan priest who served as the provincial of the
California Franciscan Friars from 1979 to 1988, he co-founded the
Nevada Desert Experience and its enduring movement to end nuclear
testing. He recently completed twelve years as the pastor of St.
Boniface Catholic Church in a low-income neighborhood in San
Francisco, California. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at the
University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2006, Louie completed a six month sentence for his
nonviolent action to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC at Ft.
Benning, GA in 2006. He is currently the "Action Advocate" for Pace e
Bene and is involved in trying to raise awareness about issues of
torture and U.S. involvement in it.
Fr. Stephen Kelly, SJ
Fr. Kelly is a Jesuit priest who worked with the Jesuit
Refugee service in Central America for many years. He has spent time
in federal prison for nonviolent direct disarmament actions. These
"Plowshares" actions have brought him into contact with many in
prisons who have suffered under U.S. hegemonic policies. In an
attempt to dedicate himself to conversion of nuclear weapons in the
Isaiah biblical prophetic vision, he sees a connection between the
rationale to torture alleged enemies and the blatant incineration of
civilians. In December, 2005, Kelly served as chaplain for Witness
Against Torture, a delegation of over two dozen U.S. anti-torture
activists who defied the U.S. embargo of Cuba with a peaceful march
through that nation to the gates of the Guantanamo Bay naval base and
Orlando Tizon was arrested on September 21, 1982 in Davao
City, in the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines, during the
regime of President Marcos. At that time he was working as a
community organizer and educator among the rural poor in the
Philippines. During the first three weeks of his imprisonment, the
military who arrested him kept him blindfolded and incommunicado in a
military camp outside Davao City. He suffered beatings, endless
interrogations, mock execution and solitary confinement for more than
three months. On April, 1986 after the people power revolution, the
Aquino government granted him amnesty and released him from prison.
Soon after, he emigrated to the U.S., went for treatment and therapy
and attended graduate school, later earning a doctorate in sociology.
His interests lie in the issues concerning torture and
political violence, race/ethnic relations, immigrants and refugees
and human rights. Presently, he is the Assistant Director of the
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
(TASSC) in Washington, D.C.
Bill Quigley, lawyer for Fr. Louis Vitale, is a law professor
and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center
at Loyola University New Orleans. Bill has been an active public
interest lawyer since 1977. He served as counsel with a wide range
of public interest organizations concerned with Katrina social
justice issues, public housing, voting rights, death penalty, living
wage, civil liberties, educational reform, constitutional rights and
civil disobedience. Bill teaches in the Law Clinic and teaches
courses in Law and Poverty and Catholic Social Teaching and Law. He
has served as an advisor on human and civil rights to Human Rights
Watch USA, Amnesty International USA, and served as the Chair of the
Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
He has also been an active volunteer lawyer with School of the
Americas Watch and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
In 2003, he was named the Pope Paul VI National Teacher of Peace by
Pax Christi USA and is the recipient of the 2004 SALT Teaching Award
presented by the Society of American Law Teachers.
Col. Ann Wright (U.S. Army, Ret.) served 29 years in the
military and 16 years in the diplomatic corps, including as Deputy
Ambassador at four missions. Among her many posts, Ms. Wright
reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in December, 2001. She resigned in
March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. Wright now works full-time
as an advocate for peace and human rights, challenging politicians
and military leaders in Washington to oppose the occupation of Iraq
and the Military Commissions Act. She has traveled the country
speaking about and lending support to soldiers who refuse to fight in
Iraq. In August, 2006, she traveled to Amman, Jordan to talk with
Iraqi parliamentarians about their peace plan, and participated in
the Close Guantanamo delegation that traveled to Cuba in January,