Protests results in 32 arrestsBy Prabhat Mehta
Tension escalated yesterday between supporters of the Coalition Against Apartheid and the administration as police arrested six people during a two-hour rally. The demonstration, which drew close to 200 participants, was held in response to the arrest of 26 protesters and the destruction of a symbolic shanty at a CAA protest Friday.
Originally billed as a call "to rally . . . in support of student rights to hold peaceful demonstration and to express viewpoints that differ from the stated policies of the administration," the gathering proved to be another anti-apartheid protest.
"We're here to say two things today: We still want divestment, and it is not acceptable for the [Campus Police] to break up a peaceful demonstration," said Paul J. Resnick G to a crowd which included students, faculty, administrators, and staff.
Confrontations began soon after the crowd assembled at 4 pm on the lawn between the Stratton Student Center and Massachusetts Avenue. Campus Police arrested three students there after demonstrators attempted to bring a shanty similar to the one destroyed on Friday onto the grounds.
Three others, including an MIT lecturer and a Tech photographer covering the protest, were arrested by Metropolitan District Commission officers on the east side of campus after the rally moved to the president's house.
The CAA continues to press for MIT's divestment of holdings in companies which do business in South Africa. While MIT claims its holdings total $84 million, the coalition claims the figure is $289 million.
The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation has authority over the divestment issue, but it appears unlikely at present that any significant support for divestment exists among its 10 members.
Nonetheless, the coalition intends to use the momentum generated by the activities of Friday and yesterday to continue their efforts through additional protests, petitioning and information distribution. The CAA has organized another rally for today at 4 pm at the Student Center lawn.
Meanwhile, the MIT Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility has organized an open meeting for 7 pm tomorrow in 10-250 to hear views on divestment.
The arrest of Tech photographer Sean M. Dougherty '93 precipitated the most heated confrontation between demonstrators and police.
Dougherty had climbed a tree between the lanes of Memorial Drive to take pictures of the protest at the president's house. After several warnings and an attempt to forcibly seize him, Dougherty came down voluntarily only to be arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and failure to obey a police officer.
As he was being handcuffed, the protesters, whose numbers had declined to approximately 140, rushed to block the arrest. "Let him go!" chanted the demonstrators as they approached the police.
After Dougherty was taken into an MDC car, the protesters proceeded to block its path by sitting down on the westbound side of Memorial Drive. The police slowly cleared the front path of the car, but after making little progress in leaving the site, the police decided to take Dougherty to another car nearby.
Dougherty was dragged from one car to the next, and when the police placed him in the second car, the protesters had already blocked its exit.
Again the car was forced to crawl while police periodically cleared its path using nightsticks and manual force. As the car moved along, the protesters continued to challenge the police, pounding the car and repeatedly attempting to obstruct its passage.
The tense situation lasted for approximately 15 minutes, at which time police were able to maneuver the car onto Wadsworth Street between Buildings E51 and E52. There the standoff continued until the protesters' attention was caught by another arrest taking place outside E52.
At several instances during this period, police resorted to forcefully pushing away students with night sticks and pulling them by their hair. Angry exchanges added to the hostile atmosphere.
The situation was quelled somewhat after police arrested Roberto Terpod, who has no affiliation with MIT, outside the Sloan School. Christine M. Coffey '93 managed to lead the group away from the police and back toward the middle of campus.
In addition to Dougherty and and Terpod, Joannie Seager, a lecturer in the Women's Studies Program, was arrested on the east side of campus. Like Terpod, Seager was charged with with disorderly conduct and assault and battery. In addition, Seager was charged with failure to obey a police officer. Seager said she was arrested for grabbing an officer to maintain her balance after he tried to shove her away from a police car.
Shanty falls quickly
The other major point of confrontation occurred at the Student Center lawn. Shortly after opening speeches were made, students carried a new shanty down Massachusetts Avenue and attempted to bring it onto the lawn.
Approximately 20 Campus and Cambridge Police officers blocked the shanty. As students pressed onto the lawn, police began dismantling and taking away individual sections.
At this point, skirmishes broke out between students and police. At the same time, a thwarted attempt to defiantly raise a portion of the dismantled shanty on the lawn precipitated heated verbal exchange between students and Campus Police officers who were taking the structure away.
After the first arrests, students regrouped on the lawn. Some were in tears as they heard appeals from students arrested Friday and South Africans describing the situation in their native land.
"MIT does not seem to realize the urgency of the South African situation and the need to divest now," said Lerothodi-Lapula Leeuw '92, one of the two South African students who spoke.
The other South African student warned that the alternative to a peaceful settlement of the problem in South Africa was violence. "We have waited too long for freedom. We want it and we want it now," he said.
Students initially tried to shift hostility away from the Campus Police and onto the administration. They made particular references to Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56, who ordered Friday's arrests.
But when the police action began after the appearance of the shanty many students accused officers of rough treatment and brutality.
Steven B. Chanin G, one of the students arrested on Massachusetts Avenue, said he was pushing on the shanty when a policeman "grabbed me from behind and forced me to the ground."
Chanin claimed he was told at the scene that he was being charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. But when brought to the police station, Chanin was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, he said.
The charge was unjustified, he said. "I was the one assaulted and battered. . . . I never grabbed a policeman." Chanin went to the MIT Medical Center to have head injuries checked, but no concussion was found.
While Chanin was "annoyed that they bounced my head off the ground," he was more upset that the police had orders to keep the shanty off MIT property. These orders made the use of force "unavoidable" and precipitated the arrests, he said.
Dougherty claimed that at first police tried to physically pull him out of the tree on Memorial Drive and that later they used intimidation tactics. "It was an ego thing for the cop," he said.
Dougherty also claimed that police failed to read him his rights or tell him with what they were charging him. "They didn't tell me anything," he said. Despite the claims of violence, student leaders continually urged the participants against confrontation with the police. The rallies were meant to be peaceful, they claimed.
The two students arrested at Massachusetts Avenue along with Chanin were Kenneth S. Chestnut Jr. '92 and David F. Driskell G, both of whom were charged with assault and battery.
All those arrested have been released and will be arraigned today.