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NY Rep. Arrested in Vieques Protest

May 4, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A New York congressman was arrested Thursday outside the White House as he staged a one-man protest in solidarity with demonstrators trying to stop the Navy’s practice bombing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., was born in Puerto Rico, where federal agents in riot gear removed protesters who for more than a year have been blocking the bombing range after a resident was accidentally killed by Navy bombers.

Serrano and 45 other members of the House wrote President Clinton on Tuesday stating their opposition to the bombing and the forcible explusion of the protesters in Vieques. The letter said the island residents had already ``suffered environmental, health and economic harm from years of military exercises.″

``It’s never a great feeling, being part of the government and then protesting against my government, but the government is wrong,″ said Serrano, who showed up at the White House dressed in a suit and tie and holding a red-and-white sign that said ``Peace for Vieques.″

Serrano slipped inside the White House compound when the gate was briefly opened to allow a work truck to exit, and then refused to leave. Law enforcement officers later persuaded him to demonstrate outside the gate, where he was arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in a restricted zone. His hands were bound with plastic handcuffs and he was led to a police car.

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