Out of the Books, Into the Streets

1800 Demonstrate Against U.S. Involvement in El Salvador

Until two days ago, graduating seniors could claim they were the only students on campus to have witnessed a major demonstration at Harvard--3000 participated in a candlelight march for divestiture in 1978.

But Thursday evening, protest against U.S. involvement in El Salvador sparked another large demonstration in the Yard, this time drawing more than 1500 students and members of the community.

The rally, organized by the Harvard-Radcliffe Committee on El Salvador and attended by such diverse groups as the United Harvard Ministries and the Communist Youth League, started off peacefully from the steps of Widener Library before winding through the Yard and down to the river Houses.

Confusion momentarily overtook the leaders of the march, however, at the corner of Boylston and South Sts., where some members of the rally tried to divert the marchers to the Kennedy School of Government--contrary to the scheduled route--to protest the appearance of Roy Prosterman, a government land reform expert who has advised the Salvadoran junta on its land redistribution program.

Organizers of the protest, including Jamie B. Raskin '83, Larry Ronan '78 and Peter -Sacks '81, managed to divert the long stream of marchers back to the steps of Widener. But before the remaining three speakers could deliver their addresses. Philip Martin, a student at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, urged the crowd to march back to the K-School to demonstrate the "life and death urgency" of the Salvadoran revolution.


Although only about 100 people raised their hands when Martin asked how many would join his rally, about 250 left the steps of Widener for the K-School. Shortly after they arrived and entered the building, they were followed by more than 200 protestors from the Yard.

Prosterman, saying that "it is not helpful to discuss facts in a crowd situation," slipped out a back door as the protestors staged an impromptu--and more emotional--continuation of the rally.

Committee members had invited Prosterman to a group-sponsored debate last night on U.S. aid to El Salvador, but Prosterman said yesterday that the K-School rally had warned him of "the three ring circus" this event would become. He with-drew his acceptance yesterday afternoon.

Nevertheless, organizers of the march expressed optimism about their struggle to demonstrate widespread discontent with President Reagan's policies toward El Salvador.

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