More Than 260 Arrested As Thousands Denounce Aid For Nicaragua Rebels
Undated (AP) _ Demonstrators flocked to federal buildings, congressional offices and national monuments in at least 21 cities Monday to protest U.S. aid to Nicaraguan rebels, and more than 260 people were arrested.
The rallies by military veterans and church and anti-war groups were held on the eve of expected action by the House of Representatives on President Reagan’s $100 million aid package.
″The position that a nation of less than 3 million people of Nicaragua could possibly be a threat to the United States is ludicrous - with or without aid from the Soviet Union, or Cuba, or both,″ Bill Corrigan, a 62-year-old Army veteran said at a Cleveland rally at a monument to Civil War veterans.
The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on Reagan’s plan to give $70 million in military and $30 million in non-lethal, humanitarian aid to the U.S.-backed Contra rebels fighting Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.
Last month, the House voted 222-210 against Reagan’s plan, but the Republican-controlled Senate later gave 53-47 approval of a modified version of the package, sending it back to the House.
New York City police arrested 127 people for blocking an entrance to the major federal office building in Manhattan, and two Boston protesters were arrested on charges of trespassing at the Central Intelligence Agency office.
In Washington, D.C., police arrested 57 people who refused to end a vigil near a monument to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the Capitol Rotunda.
A protest at the federal building in Albany, N.Y., ended when 28 people were arrested for refusing to leave the building at closing time.
About 125 of the protesters had dumped symbolic corpses made of clothing stuffed with newspapers on the ground and put catsup on large cards that represented U.S. Internal Revenue Service forms.
″We want to graphically bring home to people ... that’s what we’re paying for,″ said Donna DeMaria, one of the protest organizers.
Baltimore police made 43 arrests when demonstrators blocked the entrance to the federal building and charged them with trespassing and obstruction of free passage, said police spokesman Dennis Hill.
After about 70 protesters in Worcester, Mass., held a mock funeral march down Main Street, police arrested nine people outside the federal building on charges of blocking a public building entrance.
They were released on personal recognizance at an arraigment in District Court and ordered back in court May 20.
In Manhattan, Kan., about 150 protesters sang and chanted slogans such as ″No more lies; No more Vietnams″ outside the University of Kansas auditorium as Secretary of State George Shultz spoke, criticizing opponents of the aid package.
Ushers confiscated about 50 signs and banners the appearance.
Protesters in Atlanta greeted public health professionals arriving at the national Centers for Disease Control for a conference on violence, urging them to wear armbands to protest U.S. military involvement in Central America.
About 50 anti-Contra demonstrators gathered outside City Hall in Tampa, Fla., where former Costa Rican Vice President Mario Rojas was speaking in favor of the aid package, and an appearance by a Contra official in Des Moines, Iowa, drew about a dozen protesters from a church group.
In Boston, hundreds of demonstrators jammed offices of the Internal Revenue Service, forcing taxpayers to file through a police barricade to get inside, then marched through downtown to the CIA office.
″No tax dollars for Contra terrorists,″ read one sign carried by a protester at the IRS office.
About 500 people, part of a coalition called Pledge of Resistance, gathered at the federal building in Chicago, some of them covered with red paint to symbolize blood.
The Rev. Donald Schupp of Solid Rock Baptist Church, who came dressed as the Angel of Death, said the protesters were risking arrest because ″we are getting into another Vietnam.″ None was arrested.
In New York, there was no violence when about 200 officers confronted a crowd of demonstrators that authorities estimated at about 150 people. Protest organizers placed the number at 300.
Police blocked the two main entrances to the 40-story building and directed thousands of workers inside through two side doors. The arrests came when most of the protesters moved to block one of the side entrances.
In other anti-Contra activity in Washington included a news conference by bishops of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches, who denounced what they called the immorality of aiding the rebels, and announcement by Vietnam veterans of formation of the U.S. Federation of Veterans for Peace.
Those arrested at the Capitol were being charged with unlawful entry, authorities said, and were being processed at the city jail. The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a $500 fine, police said.
Other rallies were held in Columbus, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Houston; Cincinnati; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Decatur, Ga.