art is not a crime: charges against four school of the americas watch activists dropped

On May 14, roughly a dozen activists pasted a giant mural on the streets of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, to commemorate some of the people who have been murdered at the hands of graduates of the School of the Americas (SOA). Four of the activists were handcuffed, arrested, held for six hours, and charged with “defacing public or private property.” According to School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch),

In response to the attempts by Washington, DC police to silence us, supporters throughout Denver, Colorado, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Los Angeles, California, Takoma Park, Maryland and UC Riverside, California, have put up more posters … to denounce the human rights violations that continue through the training of Latin American military and police at SOA/WHINSEC, funded through US tax dollars.

The charge carried a maximum penalty of 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. Yet today all the charges were dropped at the activists’ arraignment. More than 1,200 supporters from across the US and Canada had signed a petition asking the prosecutor, Ron Machen, to drop the charges.