Travis Bishop is led away from Fort Hood in shackles. Image from video shot by Bishop’s lawyer.
This started out as a story for Free Speech Radio News but didn’t make it into today’s newscast. I’ve heard of the Flash player not working for a few folks. Listen to the MP3 if that’s the case for you. Cross-posted to Houston Indymedia, now featured on Indymedia.us.
A Fort Hood soldier faced a military trial today for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan, one week after another member of his unit was sentenced to 30 days in jail for refusing to go to war. Sergeant Travis Bishop was convicted on all charges and sentenced to one year in prison, loss of pay, and reduction in rank.
Unlike Victor Agosto, who resisted deployment to Afghanistan on the grounds that the war is unconstitutional, Bishop is a conscientious objector. He opposes all wars because of his Christian faith. I spoke with Bishop on Friday evening before he was sentenced.
“Jesus is very vocal about non-violent conflict resolution. Jesus is very, very anti-war. You can tell from all his sermons. As far as my state of mind I feel good. I feel better about facing prison because of that belief than going to Afghanistan and coming back a quote unquote ‘American hero.’”
Bishop says he realized he could file for conscientious objector status only days before his scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in March. He left the sprawling Killeen base for one week and is now charged with going AWOL and disobeying orders.
Desertion rates among the Army ranks rose 80 percent between 2003 and 2007. With tens of thousands more troops now headed to Afghanistan, anti-war activist Cynthia Thomas says G.I. support networks are crucial. She co-founded the Under the Hood Outreach Center and Cafe in Killeen.
“Our soldiers know here at Fort Hood that if they choose to be a soldier of conscience and resist orders to deploy that we are here, that they have the support, that we have this network here in Killeen. It’s really amazing sometimes when you have all these boys in here, sometimes they just come into sleep, to get away from the base…”
Bishop said he wouldn’t be able to resist deployment orders without the support from the local coffeehouse.
“Under the Hood has been incredibly good to me. They said no matter what my decision, deploy or not deploy, they were going to support me. I don’t think I’d have been able to do this at all, just by my lonesome. I don’t.”
Bishop said he hopes his decision will inspire other troops to question their service in the military. Last week supporters of Victor Agosto from across Texas gathered at Under the Hood cafe and rallied across from Fort Hood. [Chants from rally]
They’ll rally outside the base again for Travis Bishop this evening.