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Demonstrators Splash Blood at Pro-Contra News Conference

February 4, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Demonstrators opposed to aid for the Nicaraguan Contras threw what they said was human blood at a speaker at a news conference called today to announce a new campaign to support the anti-Sandinista rebels.

Robert Grant, president of the American Freedom Coalition, a pro-Contra group, said Wednesday’s 219-211 House rejection of renewed Contra aid was passed by ″a slight majority of Ortega stooges″ led by House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas.

The protestors shouted their objections shortly after Grant finished speaking and as L. Francis Bouchey, president of the Council for Inter- American Security, another Contra-support group, began to speak at the news conference at the National Press Club.

A woman who identified herself as Dale Ashera-Davis of Jonah House of Baltimore splashed the blood from a yellow plastic bottle, staining a carpet, a press club flag and a curtain behind the speaker.

″Very well done. You’re a nice lady. Thank you for coming,″ Grant said as security guards ushered Ms. Ashera-Davis and three other protestors from the room, which was crowded with reporters and photographers.

″We believe the will of the American people was expressed yesterday by Congress,″ said another protestor, Lisa Fithian of Washington, as several participants in the news conference chanted ″Viva La Contra″ in support of the Nicaraguan rebels.

Ms. Fithian said outside the press plub building that she and the other demonstrators represented peace groups that oppose U.S. support for wars in Central America.

Jonah House is a group of peace activists whose members include Philip Berrigan, the activist former priest and member of the Catonsville Nine who was convicted of pouring homemade napalm over draft files in 1968.

Grant said the protest represented a kind of freedom that does not exist in Nicaragua.

In his speech, he said, ″We have said to our ‘new friend’ (Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev) who spends $2 million a day in Nicaragua that his expansionist Marxist-Leninist revolution can now run amuck throughout our hemisphere unchecked.″

Grant said pro-Contra groups would soon announce details of a campaign to ″make all Americans aware of how their congressmen voted in regards to Central America and making the world safe for Communism.″

He said the campaign would include television advertising, letter-writing campaigns and ″local grass-roots events in all 50 states.″

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