Hundreds of demonstrators gathered before dawn Monday, blocking entrances to the Pentagon in a rowdy protest against American actions in El Salvador. More than 200 were arrested.
Police, including one officer who was attacked by protesters, arrested one group that sat in a road to block a military bus from entering the huge south parking lot at the Defense Department headquarters.The protesters succeeded in keeping the huge south parking lot of the Pentagon mostly empty as police diverted traffic.
One demonstrator sprayed red paint across the front of a bus. Protesters pushed one Federal Protective Service officer to the ground when he tried to arrest the demonstrator and beat the officer before other officers rescued him.
Other protesters went to a grassy area used as a helicopter field outside the Pentagon, where they planted crosses bearing the names of people who have died in El Salvador.
The demonstrators oppose U.S. aid to the Salvadoran government, which has been engaged in a war against leftist guerrillas since 1980. An estimated 60,000 people have died in that conflict.
Carrying candles and signs in the darkness, the protesters were reminiscent of those who railed against the Vietnam War in the same place 20 years ago, although their numbers were far smaller.
They chanted against U.S. policies and sang out, "Hey hey, ho, ho, the Pentagon has got to go."
David Dellinger, a vocal figure against the Vietnam War who was convicted as one of the Chicago 7 in the 1960s, was at Monday's protest and said, "The most effective lobby is by people putting their bodies on the line."