By Joyce Rothermel
October 1, 2016

soa-watch-convergenceThree-hundred and ninety human rights, social justice, faith-based, labor, and immigrant rights groups are calling for an International Convergence at the U.S./Mexico Border from October 7-10, 2016. Thirteen people are participating through the SW PA School of the Americas Watch chapter here at the Merton Center with the financial help of many of our members.

Activists will gather at the border in the lead-up to the November elections, to highlight U.S. foreign policy as one of the root causes of migration, and to stage protests and nonviolent direct action against racism, xenophobia and U.S. militarization at home and abroad.

After holding an annual vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, for 26 years, SOA Watch and partner groups, based on broad-based grassroots power, will push back against militarization of the border, against criminalization of migrants and refugees, as well as name the root causes of migration. SOA Watch and the endorsing organizations will stand on the side of mutual aid and solidarity, and build power for a cultural shift.

Communities are being targeted for assassination and state repression throughout the Americas by U.S.-trained, military and police forces. People from Latin America continue to be forced to flee from U.S. trained repressive security forces, only to be confronted with a militarized border, racist laws, and xenophobic rhetoric in this election cycle. Black and Brown bodies in the U.S. continue to be targeted, systematically imprisoned and killed in the same way. We can no longer separate the issues and today we say enough! We cannot look at immigration reform without looking at its root cause. We cannot discuss police brutality or the prison industrial complex in the U.S. without discussing its root purpose. State violence is used to exert control and oppress our communities in order to maintain an exploitative racist system that benefits the few. Today we say enough!

The convergence will include workshops and events on both sides of the U.S./ Mexico border — art, music, and resistance. To learn more about why SOA Watch is moving from the gates of Fort Benning to the border, visit http://www.SOAW.org/border

A gathering will be held at the Merton Center following the return of the Pittsburgh group to share our experiences and discuss follow-up activities in our region.

Joyce Rothermel is a member of the SW PA School of the Americas Watch and will be participating in the Convergence.