Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crossing the line: Joe DeRaymond and the SOA

I neglected to post a tribute when one of FOR's first volunteers in Colombia, Joe DeRaymond, died in September. I had met Joe several times in his capacity as a member of the program's Colombia Committee when I worked in the San Francisco, CA office before coming to Colombia. I then had the privilege, just the month before he died, of leading the delegation in August in which Joe made his last visit to the Peace Community. Despite the pain and difficulty of the advanced stage of his brain cancer, his joy at visiting the Community one last time was palpable. I am honored to have shared that with Joe, who was not only a former FOR accompanier but also an assiduous advocate for human rights and the end to impunity in Latin America. As people gather in Fort Benning, Georgia for the annual SOA protest/vigil, I post this email appeal, sent today, for support for the Joe DeRaymond Memorial Accompaniment Fund, in memory of an inspiring man and tireless activist. ~Moira

In 2006, Joe DeRaymond served a three-month sentence for "crossing the line" at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the School of the Americas (SOA, now called WHINSEC) is located. Joe spoke about going again this year to the annual SOA vigil, which occurs this weekend. Though his passing last month obviously changed that plan, his ashes will be spread at the vigil in accordance with his wish. He actively participated in the movement to close the school, through lobbying, educating his community, and protests.

We are gratified by the generosity of those of you who have contributed to
Joe DeRaymond Memorial Accompaniment Fund, which has now received more than $3,200 - including from the owner of a local landfill that Joe organized to clean up!

Joe also spoke strongly against the plan to establish US military bases in Colombia, and FOR's Liza Smith will conduct a workshop and strategy session with activists from across the country at the SOA vigil on Friday night. If you are travelling to the vigil, please join us at the workshop, stop by the FOR table, and hear Liza sing from the stage.

This is the third and final email appeal for donations towards this fund. The fund will remain open, but we are writing you several times because this is a special moment just after Joe's death and right before the SOA Vigil.

Joe's commitment to the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and to nonviolent alternatives persists, even after his death. Please support the continuation of that commitment by materially
supporting accompaniment of the Community. Fifty dollars covers a weekly stipend for an FOR volunteer in San José. Ninety dollars covers the cost of a critical satellite phone from the remote area. Any amount contributes to maintaining the team to which Joe gave so much during his life. Click here to make your tax-deductible donation.

For peace and community,
John, Liza, Susana, Moira, Peter, Rachel, and Marion

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