Protesting atrocities by Latin American soldiers trained in the United States isn’t on the course syllabi of most theology students. But Michael O’Grady, S.J., added it to his. And now he’s paying the price. O’Grady, a graduate student in theology, went to Fort Benning, Ga., in November for the annual protest against the U.S. Army and its former School of the Americas—now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation—which teaches military tactics to representatives of foreign governments. He climbed the barbed-wire fence surrounding the base, while demonstrators chanted the names of victims allegedly murdered by the school’s graduates.
He was booked on federal trespassing charges but refused to post bail. In letters to his Jesuit community, he discusses the spiritual test of his confinement in the Muscogee County Jail and the destitute men he met there. Found guilty, he was sentenced to serve a three-month jail term.