300+ officers on hand for WHINSEC protest

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Every year, thousands of people converge on Fort Benning Road in south Columbus to protest WHINSEC, formerly known as the School of the Americas.

Demonstrators say the institute at Fort Benning trains soldiers from South America torture techniques.

The protest commemorates 6 Jesuit priests who were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter in Latin America in 1989.

Friday, we caught up students taking part in an open house on WHINSEC.

"Since WHINSEC has been here, we have welcomed people from the protest who come here only for that weekend to come in and see us and talk with a panel of people who can tell them about the institute so that they get a little balanced view in addition to what they hear from their organizations. So this year, we have 750 people from 17 different states and also from Canada," said Lee Rials, Public Affairs Officer for WHINSEC.

Outside the Fort Benning gate, preparations were underway for the crowds.

More than 300 officers with the Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff's and Marshals Office, Georgia State Patrol, and Muscogee County Prison will be monitoring this year's crowd.

Officials say this could be the last big protest.

"The only thing I could say is what I've read on the web that the people who teach in downtown are not coming back next year so that means probably a lot of the Jesuit high schools and colleges also won't come. It's been an opportunity to show the institute. If they don't come back, we'll miss that opportunity," added Rials.

Tomorrow's protest outside of the Fort Benning Road gate will go from 11 AM to 5 PM and again on Sunday from 8 AM to 2 PM.

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