Martin Sheen’s Enduring Spirit
By Irish America Staff
December / January 2001
Actor Martin Sheen was awarded Amnesty International’s Enduring Spirit Award for his tireless dedication to social justice. Of Irish and El Salvadorian heritage, he has been an activist for the rights of South and central Americans, protested political repression in Central America, and promoted more liberal political asylum policies in the U.S. The West Wing star has also worked to fight nuclear proliferation, domestic violence and homelessness in the U.S. and volunteers at a soup kitchen in Venice, California on a weekly basis.
Earlier this year, Sheen told USA Today, “this [acting] is what I do for a living and that [his activism] is what I do to stay alive.” He has been arrested more than five dozen times for participating in political and human rights protests.
Upon receiving the award from his close friend Father Hilary (pictured above), Sheen, in his own inimitable style, promptly gave the award right back to his friend as a tribute to Hilary’s own work for human rights.
Only a few weeks after receiving, and then bestowing, the award, Sheen was arrested in October along with 22 other peace activist during a protest over military space technology at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, The West Wing star was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and failure to disperse, and was warned not to return to the base for at least one year.
The protest rally, called “Stop Star Wars,” was organized by the Vandenberg Action Coalition – an alliance of peace organizations as part of an international day of protest against military space technology, including the star Wards defense system, hunter-killer satellites and space surveillance systems.
Sheen spoke at the event along with Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Medea Benjamin. ♦