Mid-summer check-up 

Public Interest

A mid-summer check-up on some of this year’s stories:
Charity Ryerson is headed to federal prison on July 22 for her civil disobedience in protest of the U.S. Army School of Americas. (Photo from Jan 8, 2003 issue.)

Twenty-year-old Indianapolis resident Charity Ryerson (“A Real Patriot,” Jan. 8) and Indianapolis native Jeremy John were both sentenced to six months in federal prison for their acts of civil disobedience at the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of Americas (SOA). The two were convicted of destruction of federal property for cutting off a padlock blocking access to the grounds during the annual November demonstration calling for the closure of the Fort Benning, Ga.-based school.

The SOA, whose graduates have been implicated in thousands of civilian deaths, had a curriculum that included instructions on beatings and executions. “As a school that we know has taught Latin American military to oppress their own people in the name of U.S. interests, a school which has taught rape and torture as tactics, it can be labeled as a ‘terrorist’ organization,” Ryerson told the judge at her sentencing.

Ryerson and John are scheduled to report to federal institutions in Pekin, Ill., and Terre Haute, Ind., respectively, on July 22 to begin their sentences. This year’s vigil and protest is scheduled for Nov. 21-23. For more information, check www.soaw.org. • • •

Don’t look now, but Indiana’s junior Sen. Evan Bayh (“Articles of Impeachment from the Democratic Party,” May 21) has recently started acting like a Democrat. After first voting for President Bush’s rich-get-richer tax cut in May, Bayh switched and voted against it, citing Bush’s raid on the Social Security trust fund and reduction of tax breaks for families and children. (The Congressional Record is silent as to whether Bayh credited NUVO for his change of heart.)

Now Bayh has authored a successful amendment to the Senate’s prescription drug bill that would direct an extra $50 million a year to cash-strapped Wishard Hospital. “As a public hospital that focuses on lower-income patients, Wishard’s cutbacks would be especially devastating,” Bayh said. Welcome to the Party, Evan. • • •

The bus trip showing some of the city’s power brokers the problem of abandoned homes on the city’s near-Eastside (“ONE Powerful Neighbor,” March 26) has reached its destination. Organization for a New Eastside (ONE) has secured a commitment from the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development for $250,000 in home repair funds for the neighborhood, with the work scheduled to begin next month. DMD director Maury Plambeck has also agreed to quarterly meetings with representatives of ONE’s Renew Project, who pledge to push for more attention to their crime-plagued neighborhood. • • •

Carol Korreck has learned that her 20-year-old son and U.S. Army Pfc. Tim Korreck has left Iraq for Kuwait, ready to return home any day now. (“Dear Mr. Bush,” Jan. 29) But the Whiteland woman is not letting up on her opposition to President Bush’s agenda in Iraq. Last week, in response to questions about the attacks on the American troops who remain in Iraq, the president responded by issuing a much-criticized taunt. “Bring ’em on!” Bush said.

Not surprisingly, Korreck does not sound as eager for bloodshed. “I’m thrilled Tim is getting to come back, but a guy got shot last night [Sunday] waiting in line to get a soda,” she says, referring to the 70th U.S. casualty since the president declared on May 1 that major combat was over. “Those soldiers aren’t feeling like the liberators they were told they were going to be. For every soldier that is over there, Bush needs to be held accountable. This is his war, and he is the one who didn’t do the post-war planning.” • • •

Since his visit to Indianapolis, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (“An Interview with Howard Dean,” May 14), the Democrat presidential candidate who has most directly challenged President Bush’s fiscal record and foreign policy, has been riding a wave of momentum. Online donations allowed Dean to raise $12 million in the last quarter, more than any other Democrat.

More than 500 “meet-ups” of Dean supporters now occur monthly across the nation. The local version started with just four people in April, but the July meet-up at the Rathskellar last Wednesday attracted over 60 Dean fans, who each wrote personal letters to Iowa caucus voters on behalf of their candidate. “It was wonderful,” says local meet-up coordinator Kerry Karner. “Getting this kind of support in conservative Indiana is very encouraging.” • • •

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker turned down James Campbell’s request for a preliminary order halting the alleged Indianapolis Police Department practice of conducting body cavity searches in public settings. (“Drop Your Pants … and Your Rights?” April 23) But Campbell’s suit for damages and a permanent order is still moving forward.

Also, in a case a Marion County master commissioner said “shocks my conscience,” a new federal suit has been filed on behalf of Michael Dudley against six IPD officers, the department and Chief Jerry Barker. Like Campbell, Dudley alleges his civil rights were violated in a public body cavity search that was conducted as part of IPD policy.

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