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Six Legislators Arrested in Contra Protest

June 27, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Demonstrators protesting House approval of $100 million in U.S. aid to Nicaraguan rebels were arrested in several cities, including Albany, N.Y., where the toll included six state lawmakers.

In Minneapolis Thursday, police who used chemical Mace to disperse a crowd arrested 40 people, and in Santa Barbara, Calif., about 30 demonstrators disrupted a briefing by White House spokesman Larry Speakes, breaking a window and yelling protests about the House vote.

In Bloomington, Minn., 17 demonstrators were arrested at the office of U.S. Rep. William Frenzel, who voted in favor of the Contra aid package Wednesday after earlier voting against it. In Seattle, Wash., seven people were arrested in a similar protest.

Some of the Santa Barbara demonstrators tried to push into the briefing room that the White House press corps uses when President Reagan is at his Santa Barbara County ranch, but the group dispersed before police arrived.

The House voted 221-209 Wednesday in favor of the Contra aid. The measure, strongly sought by Reagan, goes to the Senate.

In Albany, Sgt. Gary Lester of the Federal Protection and Safety Division confirmed that the lawmakers and 27 other protesters were arrested when they refused to leave the downtown Leo O’Brien federal building.

″We did it because we were outraged by the actions of Congress,″ said New York Assembly Labor Committee Chairman Frank Barbaro, who organized the protest.

Another six protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct when they chained themselves outside to the building’s front door, Lester said.

He said the 33 protesters arrested inside the Albany building, including the legislators, were given appearance tickets before U.S. Magistrate Ralph W. Smith Jr. and released.

Arrested with Barbaro were five other Democratic state assemblymen, including Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Maurice Hinchey, Banking Committee Chairman Herman Farrell, William Boyland, Edward Sullivan, and Robert Connor.

The six people arrested outside the building were released after receiving appearance tickets for Friday in police court, said Albany police Officer Valerie Burke.

Among those arrested in Minneapolis after about 200 protesters blocked access to a federal building was Erica Bouza, wife of Police Chief Tony Bouza.

Mrs. Bouza has previously been arrested in demonstrations and served a jail term after one of those arrests.

″I have no choice,″ she said. ″I was in Nicaragua last December and felt the people finally had their freedom there.″

Police Capt. Jack Jensen, who directed the arrests, said authorities didn’t have enough personnel to handle the situation.

″The mix wasn’t a good one and there was the potential for violence,″ he said. ″People were getting a little temperamental - on both sides.″

Six officers of the Federal Protective Service tried to move the protesters from entrances to the building.

″They started to walk over us, and tried pushing us down the steps,″ said one demonstrator, Howard Kroll, 23. ″When we kept trying to crawl back in, they used the Mace and grabbed at us.″

The Minneapolis and Bloomington protesters were issued citations and released without bail, authorities said.

About 70 demonstrators protested in Buffalo, N.Y., by holding a ″die-in″ at the Federal Building at which they pretended to be civilians killed by rebels.

In Boston, about 200 people attended a rally at historic Faneuil Hall Thursday night to protest the House vote.

″We support the Nicaragua revolution and we think the vote on Contra funding is a criminal act,″ said speaker Kenneth Hale.

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