Birthplace: Lutcher, LA
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Activist, Religion
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: School of the Americas Watch
Military service: US Navy (1963-67)
Roy Bourgeois studied geology in college and won a Purple Heart for military duty in Vietnam. After his four years in the Navy, he said he wanted to "give peacemaking a chance" and joined the Catholic Church's Maryknoll Missionary Order. After his ordination in 1972, Bourgeois worked for several years with the poor in Latin America, before being expelled from Bolivia in 1977 for protesting government policies of torture and oppression. He was at the forefront of the church's response after four nuns were raped and murdered in El Salvador. Two of the victims were friends of Bourgeois, and the perpetrators were graduates of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, a US training facility where hundreds of foreign soldiers receive combat training every year.
In 1990 Bourgeois began his best-known work, the School of the America's Watch, which opposes the curriculum and existence of that training facility, where graduates include Hugo Banzer, Manuel Noriega, and the commander of El Salvador's infamous death squads, Roberto d’Aubuisson. Bourgois has been arrested and jailed numerous times, for trespassing at Fort Benning and other US military facilities, for tossing vials of blood, disturbing the peace, and for assaulting a military officer in a 1983 incident at Fort Benning.
He was excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 2008, not for his peace activism but for participating in the unsanctioned ordination of women priests. The church maintains that women cannot become priests because all of Christ's apostles were men, while Bourgeois says that to his conscience such gender-based exclusion is "a grave injustice and a sin". He continues to live in a small apartment just outside the gates of Fort Benning.
University: BS Geology, University of Southwestern Louisiana
Purple Heart 1970
Disturbing the Peace 1971 (Vietnam anti-war protest)
Disturbing the Peace 1980 (Pentagon protest)
Hunger Strike 1981 (five days, in Chicago, IL)
Trespassing 1983 (at Fort Benning, GA)
Assault 1983 (at Fort Benning,GA)
Trespassing 1986 (at Hurlbert Air Force Base, Pensacola, FL)
School of the America's Watch Founder (1990)
Hunger Strike 1990 (35 days, at Fort Benning, GA)
Damaging government property 1990 (at Fort Benning, GA)
Trespassing 1991 (at Fort Benning, GA)
Gandhi Peace Award 1994
Trespassing 1995 (at Fort Benning, GA)
Franciscan Federation Peacemaker Award 1996
Hunger Strike 1996 (10 days, in Washington DC)
Trespassing 1997 (at Fort Benning, GA)
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award 1997
Aachen Peace Award 2005
Thomas Merton Award 2005
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