Students Charged With Obstruction
Sixteen Harvard and Brandeis SDS members and 25 welfare mothers arrested Thursday in a demonstration at Boston State House were charged yesterday with conspiracy to obstruct the orderly transaction of state business and with trespassing. If convicted, they face one-year imprisonment.
The students and mothers demonstrated against inadequate winter clothing allowances for their children and demanded uniform state welfare guidelines. Francis W. Sargent, lieutenant governor, offered to meet the next day with representatives of the mothers' group and asked the demonstrators to leave. They called this tactic a stall and remained in the State House until 10:30 p.m. when they were arrested.
One Radcliffe student said the Capitol Police who cleared the State House were "pretty rough. The thing that really scared me," she said "was facing that line of cops--it was a wall of impersonality."
A Harvard student said he had seen a policeman push a pregnant woman sprawling to the ground. Another said that when he stumbled the cop who had pushed him said, "If you trip again I'll break your goddam neck."
The group was taken to the Court House jail where the police placed charges. According to a student, the State Police wanted to charge the group with obstructing state business as well as with trespassing, but that they were booked on just the trespassing charge. "When we were arraigned though," he said, "they added the obstruction charge." It is this charge and not that of trespassing which carries the penalty of one-year imprisonment.
Two Radcliffe students complained of the treatment they received at the jail. "They didn't tell us our rights," one girl said, "and tried to get us to tell them more than we had to by saying we couldn't make any phone calls if we didn't give them information." Another said she was told she could use the phone later and was never given the opportunity.
Bail was set at $100 per person, but all were released in their own custody and paid only a seven dollar fee. SDS raised nearly $1100 for bail and legal fees from friends in Claverly, the Co-ops, and from the Peace and Freedom Party in Cambridge.
The SDS students and welfare mothers pleaded not guilty and asked for a continuance in Boston Municipal Court yesterday. Chief Justice Elija Adlow gave them until November 21 to prepare a defense. The group must appear in court that day.
Joint Defense Considered
The defendants have not decided whether they will have a single defense or whether mothers and students will have separate attorneys. There is a possibility of a meeting of mothers and students tonight to decide this. The current sentiment is that they will have a joint defense.
At a scheduled SDS lecture yesterday, John T. Berlow '71, one of those arrested, asked for support of fellow SDS members and of the mothers' demands in particular.