Cabot man sentenced for trespassing at Fort Benning

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(Host) A Vermont man has been sentenced to three months in a federal prison for his part in a demonstration at an Army facility in Georgia.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Twenty-two year old Palmer LeGare of Cabot was one of 43 protestors sentenced in federal court in Columbus, Georgia. They were charged with trespassing on federal property during a demonstration last fall at nearby Fort Benning.

The Fort once housed the Army’s School of the Americas. The school served as a training center for Latin American soldiers. Protestors say many of the school’s graduates are guilty of human rights abuses in their home countries. The army has abolished the school, but critics say foreign soldiers are still being trained at the base. Annual demonstrations outside the Fort draw thousands of people. While most of the protestors stayed outside the gates of the Fort, LeGare says he was among a small group that slipped around a fence and onto Fort property:

(LeGare) “I feel that crossing over the line is making a bigger statement. Unfortunately with what’s going on in Latin America, people are intimidated, threatened, really terrorized on a daily basis. I think we need to do more than just protest. We need to risk our own safety, nonviolently, in some cases.”

(Zind) LeGare says he doesn’t regret the decision that led to his arrest and a three-month prison sentence. His mother, Amanda LeGare says she’s proud of her son’s actions:

(Amanda LeGare) “He’s twenty-two years old, but he’s still my child. He’s never been in jail before and obviously I’m frightened for him and rather dismayed that, basically for trespassing, he has to go to jail for three months.”

(Zind) LeGare says he’s waiting to hear from law authorities, at which point he’ll have forty-eight hours to report to prison in Georgia. LeGare had planned to enter his senior year of college in Springfield, Massachusetts this fall. Now he says his college plans will be postponed.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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