Angry demonstrators seeking federal help to reopen the state's closed financial institutions jeered visiting Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady on Friday, and a 76-year-old protester was dragged bloodied from the building.
The man was arrested after he tried to force his way into Brady's closed meeting with Gov. Bruce G. Sundlun and local business leaders.A Rhode Island Hospital spokesman said the man was treated for a cut on the side of his head and released to police.
Police charged the man, Wilfred La-Pierre, 76, of Warwick, with assault and released him without bond to appear in court Monday, Lt. Stephen Crawley said.
After the meeting, Brady offered no hope of federal help to get about 300,000 depositors more than $1 billion tied up in the closed institutions.
He said he could not intervene with the Office of Thrift Supervision, which Sundlun said has demanded unrealistic conditions for the sale of six of the 12 closed institutions to Old Stone Bank. The agency wants $100 million in cash from the state before it clears the purchase.
"I can promise you, the federal government is a bit leery" after the savings and loan industry's problems, Brady said.
The dozen institutions were among 45 closed by Sundlun on Jan. 1 when their private deposit insurer failed. The others have since reopened with federal deposit insurance or liquidated their assets to pay off depositors.
About 30 demonstrators marched outside the Chamber of Commerce building as Brady was whisked inside by police and Secret Service agents.
"We need federal help now!" they chanted. The demonstrators booed Rhode Island's four-member congressional delegation and Sundlun when they arrived.
"We've been abandoned by our government," protest organizer Jack Kayrouz said. "We've been used and abused by the people we elected."
"Impeach the governor. He's no good. He's out to bleed us," demonstrator Joe Royal shouted.
Brady's stop was the second on a three-city swing through New England to discuss the credit crunch.