Arresting grandma
Three grandmothers and five others from Chico spent last weekend in Georgia protesting a military school that has for years been accused of being linked to human-rights violations across Latin America.

Cathy Webster’s dream of gathering 1,000 grandmothers to cross the line onto Fort Benning Army territory, where the school is located, was not realized. But a large turnout of grandmothers, all wearing white kerchiefs, still proved powerful. Webster and one other grandma, from Minnesota, were among 16 who participated in the act of civil disobedience and were arrested for it. They could face up to three months in prison.

“There was a hole in the fence, and Cathy just stepped through,” Susie Lawing, a grandmother from Cohasset who joined the effort, said while still in Georgia. “I’ve been blown away by what I’ve seen here about what’s going on in South and Central America.”

“[The protest] was very peaceful,” Lawing said. She hopes to bring momentum for the cause back to Chico and screen videos that show the situations in Latin America caused by graduates of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas).

Kirk for sure, Nickell probably
By the time you read this, all doubt should be removed, but as of press time, Maureen Kirk was virtually certain to defeat Steve Bertagna for the District 3 seat on the county Board of Supervisors. In addition, Tom Nickell was close to victory over Mark Sorensen in his squeaker for the third spot on the Chico City Council.

After counting some 13,000 late-arriving absentee ballots, the county Elections Office released an updated tally Monday (Nov. 20) showing Kirk had upped her lead over Bertagna to 472 votes, while Nickell’s lead, previously 40 votes, had narrowed to just 28. A total of 2,146 provisional and paper ballots were to be counted for a final tally by Nov. 22 at 5 p.m.

An off-the-cuff estimate suggests that about one-third, or between 650 and 800, of those outstanding ballots are from Chico, so Sorensen would need a miracle to pick up 28 votes and overtake Nickell.

Guilty on all counts
A jury has determined that Lloyd Murray, 33, did in fact deliver a knockout blow to Travis Williams (pictured), a 22-year-old Holiday Inn security guard, causing him to fall and strike his head on parking lot asphalt, leading to his death. (See “A Moment of Violence,” Newslines, CN&R, Nov. 9.)

According to witnesses, Williams was standing off to the side of a scuffle outside the inn late in the night of Dec. 3, 2005, when Murray walked up to him and delivered a “roundhouse punch” to the face that caused him to topple over like a tree and hit his head on the pavement.

The jury found Murray guilty on three counts: involuntary manslaughter, felony assault causing a serious brain injury, and intimidating a witness. His attorney, Jodea Foster, told the Chico Enterprise-Record that he intended to appeal the verdict.

Judge James Reilley was due to set a sentencing date Tuesday, after reviewing Murray’s two prior felony convictions. Murray, who’d been paroled from prison on auto theft and drug charges just three weeks before the incident, faces up to 12 more years in the slammer.