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SOA Watch founder arrested during Capitol protest against institute at Fort Benning

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest and founder of SOA Watch, was arrested by Capitol police with 12 other activists Monday after a group of 200 people called for closing the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the former School of the Americas.

Bourgeois was held about seven hours on a charge of blocking traffic in front of the House office buildings on Independence Avenue, the group said in a statement. Bourgeois of Columbus faces a court date on May 8.

Capitol Police Lt. Kimberly Schneider said Bourgeois and the other protesters were arrested about 2 p.m. on a misdemeanor charge of blocking passage on the street.

For more than two decades, Bourgeois has led annual protests in Columbus to close the institute at Fort Benning. The protests mark the anniversary of the massacre of six Jesuits priests, their co-worker and teenage daughter in 1989 in El Salvador. Some soldiers were linked to the School of the Americas, which closed in December 2000 and reopened under its new name in January 2001.