Fourteen people were arrested and a number of assault charges are pending after two days of protest by Wayne University students, Oct. 24 and 25, at the site of a Defense and Government Procurement Conference set up to bring more defense business into Michigan.
Bradley Jones was arrested for obstructing an officer after Detroit Police, with fists flying, broke up a fight between two business men and at least 10 demonstrators.
Charges against Jones have been changed to assault and battery.
The melee followed several incidents in which Defense Conference representatives were harassed as they attempted to enter and leave Rackham Memorial through the only door in the building which wasn’t locked to demonstrators.
In one incident, businessmen attending the conference fought several students led by Tom Suber as they attempted to pull open the back door, resulting in kicking and punching on both sides.
The day before, 13 students were arrested when they broke into a private conference luncheon in the basement of Rackham waving anti-war placards. Two were charged with malicious destruction of property after police pushed them into a tray of dishes in the dining room. The others were held for disturbing the peace and all were released on bond after being interrogated by the Michigan State Police “Red Squad,” a special detail assigned to investigation of subversives and radicals.
Charges against all those arrested Tuesday have been dropped except for Tom Suber and Alan Lopez, held for malicious destruction of property.
Others arrested Tuesday were Mark Shapiro, Carl Campbell, Nathan Fuchs, Rick London, Ronald Kaiman, Mark Nowakowski, Allen Cohen, Larry Katz, Michael Pearl, Joe Kransdorf, and Tanya Sabaroff.
Miss Sabaroff said she asked three of the conference delegates if they knew they were committing murder in manufacturing for the Defense Department. She said all three answered “Yes.”
The conference, with a theme of “How to Get and Keep Your Share of Defense Business” was sponsored by the Michigan Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Defense and Government Contract Management Association “for the primary purpose of informing our respective organization membership and all other Michigan industry of the fine art of successfully doing business with the government.”
One conference business representative who refused to identify himself as anything except a “Toledo businessman” said “We are here to make money first and to defend and protect our country second.”
Wednesday’s near-riot came after some 50 protesters demonstrated in front of Rackham Memorial near the WSU campus. The group, led by representatives from campus Students for a Democratic Society and members of the Wayne Student-Faculty Council found all the doors of Rackham locked, though men in business suits smiled from behind the locked doors and secretaries peered from second story windows.
The demonstrators then followed two conference representatives around to a back door, shouting “No More War” and “Big Firms Get Rich While G.I.s Die.”
See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.
In another incident, an elderly man was confronted by demonstrators as he attempted to enter Rackham. One student, Kenneth Fireman, shouted at the man, asking him if he knew people were being killed in Vietnam while he wanted to eat lunch. The man turned to him and after a few words kicked Fireman in the groin and then ran into the building.