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Police Block 'Crater' Digging And Arrest 35 At University

Police Block 'Crater' Digging And Arrest 35 At University image
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Ann Arbor Pólice managed to frústrate En attempted repeat Saturday afternoon lof last month's symbolic "cráter" dig[ging on the University's central campus, Ibut not without first enduring a raucous confrontation w i t h approximately 200 young anti-war protesters. Thirty-five persons were arrested and charged with malicious destructirn of property as a result of the incident pólice said. The alleged offenders were booked and then released on $25 bond, if posted. By 6 p.m. Saturday- less than an hour after the protesters began setting shovel to earth on a site between the Harían Hatcher Gradúate Library and the Ëeonomics Building, in the southeast corner of the U-M Diagonal- the 25 uniformad and battle-equipped officers called to the scène had departed amidst cheering ;:nd name-calling from the crowd. But as a crowd of protesters marched down Huron Street to City Hall from the Diag early last evening, in a show of support for those persons arrested, pólice command officers professed to be nervous that the disruption might not be over for good. Pólice Chief Walter Krasny said a detail of patrolmen would remain stationen around the Diag overnight in case the situation grew tense again. One rumor had it that some protesters discussed digging a cráter on the front lawn of University President Robben Fleming's home. The proposed "dig-in" was planned in support of the four persons who were arrested on malicious destruction of property charges following the first digging of simulated Vietnam bomb cratnrs on the Diag May 19. At that time, the purported intent of the digging was to draw attention te and demónstrate against American bombing in Indochina. Permission to dig'on the Diag was not granted by University offiI ciáis, who offered an altérnate site on I the grassy dividing strip between Hill I Auditorium and the Michigan League on I S. Ingalls Street. Although no effort was made by pólice Ion May 19 to physically prevent the digIging, plainclothes officers took photoIgraphs of the most active participants land warrants were later issued against I those four persons identified. When U-M officials last week learned lof plans for yesterday's reenactment of Ithe digging, however, they let it be Iknown in advance that craters on the lüiag would not be tolerated, 'and pólice I warned that arrests would this time be I made on the spot. With the possibility of a clash looming, I local anti-war and political activists preI pared for an afternoon rally featuring I rock and roll music, speeches against the I University's alleged involvement in war f i - u. research, and the digging. The rally was scheduled to begin at noon, but didn't actually get under way until almost 4 p.m., when a rock group began playing to an estimated 500 persons gathered around the Diag. Prior to that time, the crowd had entertained itself primarily by throwing frisbees or simply lying in the sunshine. According to a spokesman for the rally who addressed the crowd, "We're here to make a serious statement about how we feel about what the University is doing to kill people in Indochina." He said the rock music was intended to arouse the "energy" of the crowd. That energy was thoroughly aroused, it seemed, by Genie Plamondon's subsequent remarks. A member of the Rainbow People's Party and unsuccessful Human Rights Party candidate for the Ann Arbor City Council in the April election, Mrs. Plamondon was one of the four persons arrested after the May 19 digging. She emphasized that the act of digging a symbolic cráter on the campus was not malicious and charged the University with attempting to intimídate protesters from further diggings by aiding in the arrests of the four despite the fact that many other persons had also been involved in the original digging. Mrs. Plamondon demanded that the charges against the four be dropped, and urged those in the crowd to all join in the digging together, on the premise that a show of strength through numbers by the diggers would discourage pólice patrolling the Diag from making mass arrests, whereas isolated diggers wold probably be "busted." "We should all go over there (to the proposed cráter site) and if we have to, we should all go to jail together and stay there . . . They should arrest all of us or none of us," she declared. With that, shovels were produced and ground was broken as other protesters linked arms and encircled the diggers in an effort to prevent pólice intervention. While approximately 200 young people moved toward the digging site and milled around its perimeter, only a fraction of that number aetually participated in theB digging process. Meanwhile, a pólice pía toon com-B manded by Uniformed Lt. Thomas Min-B ick moved up to the site and quickljB broke through the circle of protestersB The officcrs attempted to seize thcBJ shovels wLile Mrs. Plamondon - at thcH center of the action - exhorted the digBJ gers to keep the tools away from the po-H lice and continue digging. B Holding nightsticks, the officers mov-B ed through the crowd and chased ihdi-B vidual diggers as the two sides shovedB each in a brief skirmish that halt-B ed abruptly when one youth feil to theB grourïd as if injured. One spectator infl the crowd said the youth had been club-B bed by pólice, but the extent of his in-B juries could not be immediately deter-B mined. With the crowd surrounding the offic-B ers and obscenities being shouted, Mrs.B Plamondon implored the protesters toB remain non-violent and concéntrate onfl digging. Pólice then regrouped and marchedB abreast of one another with nightsticks I poised at chest level across the digging I site, clearing demonstrators in their pathB and making arrests. At least one youthB was carried bodily by officers to a near-B by paddy wagon, while another was drag-H ged struggling and cursing. As the pólice turned and reversed thel direction of their s_weep, they were pelt-B ed from behind wifh chunks of sod dugl from the cráter site. At that point, onel protester was heard to chastise another. I "Don't do that, man! Don't throw thatl stuff. They're human just like us, butl maybe less human." After all the visible shovels had beenl confiscated, some members of the crowd I tried to keep digging with their hands. I This proved generally futile, and no dig-l ging to any great depth was evident 1 where on the site. Most of the damage I done was in the form of sod ripped from I the ground. The "dig-in" seemed to lose most of I its Ímpetus and lots of its supporters I when it lost Mrs. Plamondon, its fomsle I spearhead. While not noticeably touched by pólice I during a couple of their earlier sweeps, I Mrs. Plamondon was finally arrested I while picking up pieces of sod with her I hands. She was peacefully led away by I an officer, her clenched fist raised sky-l ward. After that arrest, the confrontation di-l gressed into a situation where the pohce I established control over the digging siie I and stood by absorbing frequent insults I from certain protesters. They "held" thel site until most of the crowd had driftcd j away. By that time, loud music was again I blaring forth from speakers on the Diag, I and tempers seemed to have cooled I somewhat- at least temporarily.