Locals protest in Georgia

Four Malibu residents returned recently from a national protest that attracted thousands of participants from across the country. Actor Martin Sheen , along with activists Valerie Sklarevsky, Cordelia Rorick and Mona Loo, joined nearly 8,000 other protestors at the controversial U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. The crowd, protesting the alleged training of soldiers to suppress the civilian population in Latin America, was four times larger than the previous year. “They didn’t have a clue what was in store for them and neither did we,” said Sheen. “In fact, they ran out of buses.”

The Nov. 23 demonstration marked the anniversary of the 1989 killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, Elba Ramos, and her 15-year-old daughter, Celina, in El Salvador. Some of the school’s graduates were convicted of those murders. The protest was part of a movement to force government officials to close the school.

In 1997, more than 600 protesters were arrested for crossing the boundary onto the base where the school is located, compared to nearly 2,500 at the most recent demonstration. This year, at the last minute, the military announced that protesters who crossed the line would not be prosecuted. “I think it was an indication of how unprepared they were for the number of committed people [who showed up],” said Sheen. All four Malibu protestors crossed the line and said they were later carted off to a nearby park and warned never to return.

Whether their participation in the protest will make an actual difference is none of their business, says Sheen. “That doesn’t belong to us, that belongs to God,” Sheen added, saying, “We don’t go there alone. We risk placing ourselves in the path of harm’s way in order to free ourselves. In order to get free, we have to choose the road that serves others.”

Achieving results or succeeding in making a change is not the point of the group’s protest. “Most people think that something has to be accomplished,” said Loo. “You can make a little bit of a difference,” she added, by setting an example for others.

Sklarevsky is a veteran activist. Her recent mudslinging on the architectural model of the Malibu Bay Company’s proposed Civic Center development landed her a court date to show cause why a restraining order should not be issued against her. In Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday, she lost. The Malibu Bay Company obtained a temporary restraining order enjoining Sklarevsky from harassing their employees or entering the Malibu Colony Plaza. A full hearing is set for Dec. 22 at 8:30 a.m. in Department A in Santa Monica Superior Court.

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While she didn’t end up in jail this time, Sklarevsky has been there before. “In actuality, I always feel filled with grace when I’m in a jail cell,” she said, adding that she experiences a great sense of appreciation for the natural beauty in Malibu when she gets out.

While Sklarevsky gets discouraged from time to time, she remains hopeful with a deep motivation. “If I can walk through the fear I have been doing something and get to the other side, then that’s what gives me hope. I just feel so much pain for what’s going on. It seems that the rich and the powerful and the people that are in control just continue to despoil the earth and the air and the water. Those are the basic things I’m concerned with. Life.”

13StarsManager
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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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