PEKIN, Ill. An 88-year-old nun arrested at Fort Benning, Ga., while protesting the Army's School of the Americas reported to prison to begin serving a six month sentence.
Dorothy Hennessey arrived Tuesday at the minimum-security Pekin Federal Prison Camp along with her sister Gwen Hennessey, 68, also a nun from Dubuque, Iowa.
The sisters were among 26 protesters convicted of trespassing during a November protest in which some 3,400 people crossed onto the Army base without permission. Only those who had been arrested for trespassing before but not prosecuted were sentenced to prison.
The protesters contended that graduates of the school, recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, have been linked to murder, torture and other human rights abuses. Military officials say the school's goal is to teach democratic principles to future Latin American leaders.
Dorothy Hennessey was given the chance to serve probation, but she turned the judge's offer down.
"I'm not an invalid, so I think I should get the same as the others," she said.
She said she began protesting against the school to honor the memory of her brother who spent several years as a missionary in Central America and relayed tales of government abuses.
"My little bit of discomfort is nothing like that my brother's parishioners suffered down there," she said.
The Hennessey sisters were sentenced to up to six months in prison, as was Rachel Hayward, of Negaunee, Mich., who at 19 was the youngest protester convicted.
Pekin prison spokesman Richard Engel said the nine female protesters sent there were assigned cubicles that each will share with another inmate in dormitory-style housing.
The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the protest's organizer, School of the Americas Watch, said the sentences of the 26 who were ordered to report to prisons around the country Tuesday would energize future demonstrators. The group is planning another protest at Fort Benning in November.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press