Hundreds of Americans took to the streets Friday to protest U.S. policy in El Salvador and police arrested dozens of demonstrators in separate rallies on the first anniversary of the killing of six Jesuit priests in the Salvadoran capital.
Eighty-eight people were arrested outside Los Angeles' Federal Building after more than 250 protesters formed a human chain in front of the building in one protest organized by the Wednesday Morning Coalition for Peace and Justice in El Salvador and Central America.Demonstrators said they were protesting the fact that no one had been brought to justice for the Nov. 16, 1989, killings of the priests, their housekeeper and her 15-year-old daughter, who were shot to death during a huge offensive by leftist guerrillas.
Among those taken into custody was Father Chris Ponnet, a local Catholic priest, who told reporters before being led away, "We are here to speak out on behalf of those killed in El Salvador. The blood is on our hands as Americans."
The demonstrators also protested past U.S. policy of support for El Salvador, which at one time amounted to $1.3 million a day in military aid. Congress has since halved that figure, but the protesters demanded an end to all military aid to the Central American nation.
Riot-helmeted police escorted workers into the building during the demonstration, as protesters chanted, "Stop the killing, stop the war, U.S. out of El Salvador."
The Los Angeles City Council had declared Friday a "day of outrage" to show support and sympathy for local Salvadorans.