Protestors arrested at rallyBy Sam Osofsky
At least eight professors and three graduate students from MIT were among some 500 protesters arrested by police and federal officers at the John F. Kennedy federal building in Boston Tuesday, according to information released by the MIT-based Emma Goldman Affinity Group.
The protesters were demonstrating against the US trade embargo against Nicaragua. The demonstration was organized by the Pledge to Resistance, a protest group with a nationwide membership approaching 60,000, according to Prof. Martin Diskin, spokesman for the Emma Goldman group.
The protesters were arrested after refusing to leave the building after closing hours at 6:00 pm, according to Diskin, who was also arrested.
The group's members have signed a pledge committing themselves to either legal protest or civil disobediance in response to US policies in Central America and elsewhere, Diskin continued.
Dorothy Hosler G, a member of the Emma Goldman group who was also arrested, stressed that the group pledged "nonviolent civil disobediance."
Police extimated an additional 1000 to 2000 protesters outside the building, the Boston Globe said.
Police arrested the protesters and had booked them all by 3:00 am Wednesday, Hosler said. "By 2 to 3 in the morning we were all booked." The authorities decided to send three busloads of the arrested protesters, most of whom were women, to the Essex County Correction Alternatives Center in Lawrence, she continued. The police detained the remaining protesters in a gymnasium in the building overnight.
Correction center personnel separated the men and women and kept the women in a large gymnasium, Hosler said. "They set up some 200 cots, but it was very cold by 4:30 in the morning. We got out about 2:30 in the afternoon," she added.
"There was always a policewoman" in the gymnasium, said Prof. Heather Lechtman, another protestor who was arrested. "We talked to them, and it was an education for us, but also for them, I think."
Prof. Noam A. Chomsky, another member of the Emma Goldman group who was arrested, said that he had been involved in similar protests many times before. "Civil disobedience is a traditional way [to protest] in America," Chomsky said. The protest was "extremely successful. I don't recall anything that big in Boston even during Vietnam."
Chomsky added that he thought that while the embargo is "an atrocity, on the scale of atrocities it is a relatively small one. The whole country is much more anti-interventionalist." Chomsky was among those arrested and detained at the JFK building until his release around 11:00 am the next day, he said.
"This is the first time since the Reagan administration started its policy of belligerence that the nature of protest has become massive civil disobedience," Diskin said. This must be some "indication of the depth of feeling," he said.
Arrested protesters are usually taken before a magistrate, booked and their bails set, and then informed of the date of their arraignment, Diskin said. Each of the members of the Emma Goldman group, however, was released on his or her own recognizance, Lechtman said.
"For many of us in academia, this is not extracurricular," Diskin said. "It is a natural outgrowth of our own international experience or intellectual curiosity, and respect for the truth, in the highest tradition of pedagogy."
At least one other group from MIT, consisting mostly of graduate students from the Urban Studies program, participated in the protest, Diskin said.
"We worry that Congress will hand over [funding] it wouldn't last week: the $14 million Contra aid," Diskin said.
"My guess is that Congress will pass some sort of aid to the Contras," Chomsky said. "The question is whether they'll find a cover" for the aid.
Other MIT faculty and students arrested in the protest included Prof. Kenneth Hale, Prof. Jean Jackson, Prof. Wayne O'Neil, Prof. Sharon Traweek, Professor Emeritus Lisa Peattie, Rev. Scott Paradise and Ur Shlonsky G, according to a statement released by the Emma Goldman group.