Loyola students to protest in honor of Jesuit priests' deaths
Loyola participants will go to Washington, D.C. and Georgia Nov. 16 in honor of the 1989 killings of six Jesuit priests in Latin America by people trained by a U.S. military institute.
Political science senior and chairman of LUCAP Mackenzie McMillan said that current LUCAP members and alumni, with the addition of other Loyola students, will be traveling to participate in the annual protest of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This will be the LUCAP centennial event.
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation is a military institution owned by the Department of Defense and located at Fort Benning in Georgia. According to current LUCAP advisor Joe Deegan, the school provides training to military leaders and military elites in the United States' sphere of influence, especially Latin America. LUCAP used to send people to the protest every year but has not sent a group for the last two years. McMillan says because of this break, they want to use the centennial event to bring former and current LUCAP members together at the protest in order to remind themselves of their Jesuit values and unity.
Hendrick Voss, the national organizer for the School of the Americas Watch, which puts on the protest every year, said the first organized protest of the institute happened in November 1990, which was the one-year anniversary of the massacre in El Salvador that caused the deaths of six Jesuit priests. He said that every protest since then has been scheduled close to this anniversary.
"This November, we expect thousands of people to come together and to commemorate the martyrs, to call for justice as a possibility and also to create the culture of justice and peace that we know is possible," Voss said.
According to a 2005 article by Bill Quigley, director of Loyola's law clinic, posted on the School of the America Watch's website, Salvadoran soldiers went onto the grounds of the Central American
University in San Salvador and murdered the six Jesuit priests. According to the article, the Salvadoran government labeled the priests as subversives because they spoke out against the socioeconomic structure of Salvadoran society. The article also states that out of the twenty-six soldiers that were involved with the massacre, nineteen of them received training at the then-named School of the Americas and from U.S. Army Special Forces in El Salvador.
Voss said that the School of the Americas Watch is getting ready to have a meeting with the Obama administration on Nov. 13. He said that they are hoping to push for an executive order to shut down the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
The Jesuit universities that protest the institute come together to honor and remember the six priests that were killed.
Deegan said that there will be two parts of the protest. The actual protest in Georgia, which will be hosted by the School of the Americas Watch, is where a majority of the protesters will go. There are also
conferences relating to the protest in Washington, which is being run by the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a nonprofit organization that promotes leadership to members of Jesuit institutions by educating them on social justice issues.
According to Deegan, two Loyola representatives will be sent to Washington to take part in the conferences.
"Instead of focusing just on the protest against the School of the Americas, they [the network] have incorporated things like lobbying and other workshops," Deegan said.
Josh Daly, interim director of the Center of Community Engagement and former LUCAP advisor, has had many experiences with the protest, not only as an advisor to LUCAP, but also as an undergraduate student. He said that everything from the procession of the crosses to the educational aspects of the conferences was an enlightening experience. The procession of the crosses is a solemn, funeral-like procession where protesters walk to the gates of Fort Benning and lay down crosses that bear the names of various people who were killed
by the institute's graduates.
Daly said the mass held at the end of the event had a deep effect on him. The Jesuit universities would gather together under a huge tent and have mass for more than a thousand people. This gathering motivated the development of the Ignatian Solidarity Network and the tent itself became the
"As a student, it was the most powerful experience of the mass that I have ever experienced," Daly said. "It was this profound movement for solidarity and it gave this deeper significance to my faith."
LUCAP chose the protest for their centennial event because they want to be able to engage students in service and in education for social justice, said McMillan.
"We also want to bring alumni from LUCAP and other departments together with current students to bridge gaps and form relationships," McMillan said. "We are trying to create a more sustainable LUCAP."
Burke Bischoff can be reached at email@example.com
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