Police Ready but Few Demonstrators at White House With AM-Summit Rdp Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Dozens of police showed up to deal with an expected crowd of summit protesters near the White House Wednesday, but the only demonstrators on hand were a Soviet rock band promoting AIDS research.
Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the presidential residence normally is protest central for meetings such as the summit this week between Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Bush.
And up to 2,000 demonstrators had been expected Wednesday, according to reservations issued by the U.S. Park Police to groups representing the interests of Lithuanians, Cubans, Vietnamese, South Koreans and AIDS victims.
But Cure AIDS Now was the only organization that showed up, bringing along the Soviet rock band Gaza to blast out some tunes. It was the most visible, and audible, presence in the park.
Other demonstrators, said one U.S. Park Police officer, ″probably figured out that Gorbachev’s not even in town yet.″
Instead of protesters, the park hosted the usual groups of homeless, chess players, tourists and office workers seeking a sunny respite from their desks.
At two previous summits - in 1985 in Geneva and in 1987 in Washington when Gorbachev met with then-President Ronald Reagan - Cure AIDS Now had demanded that each side devote the monetary equivalent of 10 missiles to eradicate the deadly disease and care for its victims, said the organization’s leader, Bob Kunst.
The ante is up this year.
″We want the value of 1,000 missiles now,″ said Kunst, 47. ″We see AIDS as as catastrophic as nuclear war.″ He estimated that each missile costs $180 million.
As for the timing of his demonstration, he said, ″This is a little teaser, an appetizer, to take advantage of the press here. We hope Gorby sees us when he comes in, on television.″
Also in the park Wednesday was Concepcion Picciotto, 45. But then, she’s been there since 1981 as part of the anti-nuclear peace vigil.
″I want to do something for humanity,″ she said, handing out a leaflet that reads: ″Every gun that is made, every warship launched, ever rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, from those who are cold and are not clothed.″
Misha Knight, who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1978 because he ″did not see a future there,″ said he came to this summit to show support for the growing friendship between the United States and his homeland.
He also was selling Gorbachev T-shirts - $15 each - and an $8 cassette tape featuring himself singing ″I Am a Gorby Man,″ and ″Give Peace a Hand,″ among other tunes.