Opponents of U.S. aid to El Salvador turned out in force to protest the policy, leading to brawls between police and demonstrators in San Francisco and the arrests of more than 250 people nationwide.

"We are sending a clear message to the government that if they escalate their war in El Salvador, we will escalate our protests in San Francisco and in every other city," protest organizer Robert Jones said Monday through a bullhorn to a crowd of about 500 rowdy demonstrators in San Francisco.Fifty-three people were arrested during the unruly, 21/2-hour demonstration outside the Federal Building. Elsewhere, 122 people were arrested in New York and 90 in Seattle at demonstrations outside federal buildings in those cities.

Dozens of demonstrators were dragged away from an entrance to the State Department in Washington, D.C., but no arrests were reported there.

Demonstrators maintained that U.S. aid has fueled right-wing violence in El Salvador. "Our Taxes Pay for Death Squads in El Salvador," read one sign in San Francisco.