Americus, Ga., man arrested crossing into Fort Benning at SOA Watch protest

A 60-year-old Americus, Ga., man was the only weekend protester at the Fort Benning Road gate to get arrested for criminal trespass during the 22nd “SOA Watch” demonstration targeting the military training school now called the Western Hemisphere for Security Cooperation.

Shortly after noon Sunday, Robert Norman Chantal, a longtime SOA Watch supporter known for wearing clown makeup with the words “Study War No More” on his forehead, used a collapsible ladder to climb over the fence authorities erected to keep demonstrators from entering the Army post.

He was arrested for violating federal law and later released on his own recognizance, a Fort Benning representative said. He is to face a U.S. District Court judge on Jan. 9.

Benning authorities and Columbus police reported no problems with this year’s demonstration, which did not draw the thousands of participants of its peak years. The crowd estimate Saturday topped out at just over 2,205, and hit 1,900 Sunday, said police Capt. J.D. Hawk. The peak last year was 3,007, he said.