Peace Activists Arrested As Marines Stage Mock Invasion
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ About 100 U.S. Marines staged a mock invasion on a beach in this Lake Superior city on Friday, and eight protesters who entered the area were tackled and arrested, officials said.
More than 1,000 people watched as the Marines, taking part in an annual 21- city military recruiting tour of the Great Lakes, used amphibious tanks from the USS Boulder to reach the beach on Minnesota Point.
The area is a narrow strip of land that separates Duluth Harbor and Superior Bay from Lake Superior.
Police Chief Eli Miletich said seven people were arrested when they broke through a 4-foot-high fence as the amphibious vehicles were just a few yards from landing. An eighth person was arrested about a half-hour before the Marines landed after she went over police barriers, he said.
All eight were to be charged with disorderly conduct, Miletich said.
Police tackled most of the protesters who broke the barrier, including an elderly man who tried to dodge police but was apprehended in the water as the crafts rode up.
There were no injuries reported.
On the beach, the Marines crawled forward and fired blanks toward the crowd. Many peace activists feigned death while some Marine supporters cheered and yelled, ″Thank you, Marines.″
At times, the two factions of observers got into shouting matches.
LaVeryn McKeever of Duluth, whose husband served with the Marines in Korea and whose son died as a Marine in Vietnam, said controversy over the mock invasion gave her incentive to greet the Marines.
″I vowed that these boys would be welcome,″ she said.
″I think it’s great,″ said Ann Slaughter of Duluth, who wore a USMC cap. ″It just makes your heart beat 10 times over.″
Peace activists gathered on the opposite side of the harbor early Friday morning. Some carried a ″SANE-Freeze″ banner, referring to the name of the anti-nuclear arms group, and others carried signs that read, ″Arms are for Hugging,″ and ″Peace is Patriotic.″
″It’s a lie. It’s not training. The Marines get very little training out of this,″ said Charles Wolden of Superior, Wis., who served four years in the Marines in Vietnam and 12 years in the U.S. Air Force before leaving the military.
″I feel war is wrong, wrong for society,″ Wolden said. ″The Marines don’t show the trauma, the confusion, the effects of war″ with the mock invasion, he said.
Around mid-morning, about 100 peace activists began what they called a ″peace walk″ to a park near the harbor.
As part of its recruiting program, the Navy has docked a ship in Duluth annually for years, but this is the first time in a decade that it has brought the Marines along for a mock invasion, according to Sgt. Stephen Frank, a Marine spokesman in Minneapolis.
In early June, members of several religious and peace groups and City Council President Joyce Benson got the Navy to cancel the landing. Then a Veterans of Foreign Wars member in St. Paul suggested ″dumping Duluth″ from future VFW festivities.
Duluth veterans then succeeded in getting the City Council to ask the Navy to stage the recruiting exercise and the Navy accepted.