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Local Scenes

Stop the Repression!

By Father Tom Hereford, November Coalition

The School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) held its annual Memorial, Prayer Vigil and Peace Rally November 21-23, 2008. Fr. Roy Bourgeois and a few others started SOAW in 1990, while trying to stop the US training of military and law enforcement from Latin America in "counter-insurgency' techniques. These School of the Americas 'graduates' would then return home and use this training to intimidate, torture and kill the people of their home countries. Fr. Roy Bourgeois and his allies were prophets "speaking truth to power" in the tradition of Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero.

Father Carl Kabot, Father Tom Hereford, and Jack Hereford (Tom's dad). Fr. Kabot served over 18 years in
federal prison for his non-violent resistance to nuclear weapons proliferation.

In his last broadcasted Sunday Sermon before being assassinated in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero, becoming more passionate as he spoke, said: "I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, 'Thou shalt not kill.' No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law... In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!"

Father Carl Kabot and Father Tom Hereford at the November Coalition booth

When I remember Oscar Romero's words, I cannot help but think of the millions of our brothers and sisters held in prisons in this country. The Archbishop knew he was speaking to people with goodness in their hearts, which is one reason he was so frustrated.

I wonder, wouldn't the Archbishop's words be the same to the people of today's "justice" system? To those who have gradually created a system that cages and crushes so many? Wouldn't he say too: "In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!"

Fr. Tom Hereford has been a stalwart November Coalition volunteer for five years. He served as a federal Bureau of Prisons chaplain for over 10 years, primarily at FCI Coleman, FL, and presently resides in St. Louis, MO. As a member of the Catholic Worker Movement, he focuses on poverty, imprisonment and homelessness issues in his community. Fr. Hereford is also a member of Amnesty International, the ACLU, and the Catholic Peace Fellowship. He can be contacted at

For more on SOAWatch, visit -- For more on the drug war in Latin America, visit The Narco News Bulletin at

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November Coalition Booth at the Power To The Peaceful Festival

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, 9/6/08

The Power To The Peaceful Festival in San Francisco was a great event. People signed the Petition for Relief from Drug War Injustice, we handed out nearly all of the copies that you sent of November Coaliton's Razor Wire, and had many people asking questions and reading the materials and handouts.

We were put in a prominent location although a little hard for communication as we were quite close to the stage. We collected $37 in donations which I put toward the booth fee, and I will be sending out the completed Petitions for Relief, but was holding off as I am hoping to have a couple more to send out soon. Thank you so much for all your help with this. -- Andrea Rolde

photo from

Newest November Coalition Volunteer Andrea Rolde collects signatures for the Petition for Relief from Drug War Injustice
at the Power To The Peaceful Festival in San Francisco

Andrea Rolde (right) and her son Levi Rolde

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