Protestors Confront May, Claim Berg Trespass Case Is 'Political Repression'
About 50 members of SDS and the November Action Committee peacefully confronted Dean May in University Hall yesterday with a demand that Harvard stop alleged "political repression."
The protest centered around trespass action initiated by the University against John C. Berg, a graduate student severed for his participation in the occupation of University Hall last April: the arrest of six SDS members this month while posting antiwar notices; and the firing of several University employees, allegedly for political reasons.
Members of the crowd fired a series of questions at May, often interrupting him as he attempted to answer or laughing at his responses. May repeatedly said that he had no information about most of the demonstrators charges.
Watson Out to Lunch
The 20-minute confrontation began at the close of a sparsely-attended roon rally on the steps of University Hall. The demonstrators quickly entered the building, intending to present their demands to Dean Watson.
But in the first-floor lobby outside the dean's offices. May and Archie C. Epps, assistant dean of the College, met the crowd and explained that Watson was out to lunch.
"Are you sure he's not in court now, where he spent the last six months?" a demonstrator shouted. Berg has charged that Watson initiated the trespass action against him, but Watson has declined to comment.
Berg was subpoeanaed Oct. 22 for criminal trespass on Harvard property. Berg told the rally he appeared yesterday morning before Judge Edward M. Viola in the East Cambridge Third District Court and was granted a continuance until Nov. 13.
The complaint was issued after Berg's appearance Sept 26 at an SDS forum in Allston Burr Lecture Hall. The meeting was advertised by mimeographed copies of a letter Berg received from the Committee of Fifteen warning him that if he appeared on Harvard property he would be considered a trespasser subject to prosecution.
"This is part of a growing attempt to use the courts against students who are trying to ally with working people and fight imperialism," an SDS leaflet distributed yesterday reads. "This is an attempt to harass and intimidate students who want to fight the ways Harvard oppresses people."
In a statement released last night. May said that Berg's repeated appearance on the campus "left the University no choice but to seek the assistance of civil authorities."
May said that Berg was separated from the University "because of conduct threatening the safety of University officers."
He added that even after Berg was warned in writing that his appearance on campus would constitute him a trespasser "he persisted in coming on University property, thus creating danger of the same threats to the physical safety of University officers that led to his separation."
The letter sent to Berg said that his exclusion from Harvard property was "in accordance with prior practice" towards students separated from the University.
Demonstrators asked May why the maximum penalty for criminal trespass had been changed over the summer from a $20 fine to a $100 fine and a 30-day jail sentence, charging that this was an example of "how the courts serve Harvard's political ends."
May replied, among hisses and laughter, that he hadn't known about the change, but that it was probably sheer coincidence."
A court clerk said yesterday that the new law had not yet gone into effect at the time of Berg's alleged offense, and thus could not be applied to his case.
Demonstrators also charged that Harvard ordered the arrests of six SDS members who were fined $200 each earlier this month for allegedly disturbing the peace while putting up antiwar posters.
Two University policemen testified at the trial of the six on Oct. 16 that they had seen a number of antiwar notices around the University area, but admitted that they had not seen the posters placed.
They stated that they had followed the six throughout the early morning of Oct. 2 and that they were present at the student's arrests at 4 a.m. in front of Claverly Hall. Cambridge police actually made the arrests.
May apparently was not aware of these facts. however, and maintained throughout the demonstration that to his knowledge Harvard police were in no way involved in the arrests. He later told reporters that he had been so informed by Robert Tonis, chief of University police.
A third protest issue was the firing of University employees who have been active in SDS. May said he was not aware of any firings for political reasons and that he agreed "no one should be fired for his political beliefs."
Marjorie C. Angell 71-separated from the University last spring and ordered. like Berg, not to appear on University property-was fired this week from her job washing dishes at Harkness Common when officials discovered her identity.
At the demonstration yesterday Miss Angell said that she had been told by a Radcliffe dean that "if I wanted to come to Radcliffe and visit friends it was all right, but if I planned to engage in any political activity they didn't want me around."