Three SOA Watch demonstrators were convicted and sentenced today to six months in prison — the maximum — for trespassing onto Fort Benning during last year’s annual protest.
Father Luis Vitale, 77, of Oakland, Calif.; Nancy Gwin, 63, of Syracuse, N.Y.; and Kenneth Hayes, 60, of Austin, Texas, were found guilty by U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth of entering a military, naval or Coast Guard property.
A fourth, Michael Walli, 61, of Washington, D.C., didn’t appear in court. Faircloth issued a warrant for his arrest.
Vitale chose to begin his incarceration immediately. Gwin and Hayes remain out on bond and will report to prison when notified.
“It’s the harshest we’ve seen for a very long time,” said Eric LeCompte, event coordinator with SOA Watch. “I mean, I’m stunned by the sentences.”