Chani Geigle-Teller Sentenced To Federal Prison |
Former OregonPeaceWorks Program Assistant Chani Geigle-Teller was sentenced today to 6 months in a federal minimum security prison
and fined $1000 for her role in last year's national protest at School of the Americas. She was released on her own recognizance and will
need to turn herself in to begin serving her sentence in about one month.
Former Portland resident Lisa Hughes was aquitted of a similar charge.
US Magistrate Judge G. Mallon Faircloth presided over the week-long trial at the Federal Courthouse in Columbus, Georgia. Of the 37
defendants brought before him, only Hughes was acquitted. Sentences ranged from 90 days to 6 months and up to $5,000 fines.
At sentencing, Chani made the following statement:
"I come before you today with a heavy heart. I am really angry that I have been called here today. I am angry I've had to quit my job at a non profit peace and justice group in Salem. I am angry I've had to put my educational plans on hold. I am angry I am having to prepare to leave my community, my friends and my family.
"But that anger is nothing compared to the anger I have over the honest jobs stolen by corrupt corporations, over situations where children do not have school as an option because they have to apply themselves to slave-labor jobs in order to help their families survive, over communities being torn apart, over lands being raped, over family members losing loved ones to the hands of state perpetrated violence. I am enraged at the injustices perpetrated by this country. I am filled with indignation towards the injustice that you and the system you represent are carrying forward.
"I will never apologize to you or the United States government or to anyone else for protesting these injustices. But I do have one apology to make. I beg the mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters and brothers of Chiapas, of El Mozote, of Colombia, of Guatemala and all of Central and South America, to forgive me for my participation in a system that oppresses, tortures and murders them daily. I ask the God of Life and Truth that sustains those people to forgive me. I beg that they hear my cries of repentence as I hear their cries of "Basta - enough is enough!". I also know that I cannot even ask for forgiveness if I am not willing to change my greedy lifestyle. Not only change my own lifestyle, slowly, day by day, decision by decision, but I must stand up to that lifestyle of greed and violence if I am truly sorry in my heart for the grief I have helped put in this world. I am determined to spend the rest of my life doing everything in my power to correct my wrongdoings.
"That is why I am here.
"I am not guilty because I protest and resist the School of the Americas and other violent institutions under your authority. Your authority will crumble and wash away. I have no faith in your authority. My authority comes from the same voice and heart of which I ask forgiveness from. It is those same mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers that empower me to make my stand. It is God and life itself that says I am not guilty. That love and light and life of me and my co-defendants and the spirit of those affected by the SOA and other horrible U.S. foreign policies. We have brought that spirit here today and I swear to you, it is a force to be reckoned with. Go ahead, sit in your throne of injustice and sentence us to probation, prison and fines. But I am warning you now - the people will rise up - the people ARE rising up and we will be stronger than we ever have been before and the laws and systems and vaules of hate and fear that you are grasping onto now WILL FALL. For your own sake, Mr Faircloth, I invite you to join us. Basta - no mas! I invite you to stand up and make your plea.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never forget the infinite hope."
Organizing efforts will continue regarding this issue. Contact the Oregon Progressive Alliance, Oregon PeaceWorks, Marion-Polk Green Party or Chani herself.