The Rev. Don Coleman, 69, was one of 16 protesters arrested at the Nov. 19 demonstration at Fort Benning, Ga., to close the School of the Americas. Coleman is co-pastor of University Church (UCC/Disciples) in Chicago with his wife, the Rev. Ann-Marie Coleman, a long-time social activist.
University Church sent a delegation of a dozen to the demonstration, including a Guatemalan family that originally took sanctuary with the congregation in the 1980s.
"Every year when they go," says Don Coleman, "the crosses that they put up against the fence have their mother's and father's name on them. It becomes really personal when someone that close to us has been affected so intensely by this issue. That was a major influence on my decision."
Those arrested for trespassing posted bail and will have a three-day trial, beginning Jan. 29. In 2003, the Rev. Cliff Frasier, a UCC minister in New York, served a six-month prison sentence for "trespassing" at Ft. Benning.
"We are anticipating that our efforts will continue to add to the pressure to close the school," Coleman says, "and that the court case will be a significant educational process for the members of University Church."