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Despite allegations that Secret Service agents and Cambridge police officers used excessive force to stop a blockade of El Salvador President Alfredo Cristiani's motorcade Sunday, Harvard protesters said yesterday that they will not file formal complaints.
"I think the unsaid conclusion is that the effort we'd have to make to protest the brutality on the part of the Secret Service would not be worth it," said Deborah M. Gurner '92, a member of the Committee on Central America (COCA).
COCA members allege that law enforcement officials were overly violent when police picked up and threw to the ground several protesters who impeded the Salvadoran leader's motorcade in front of the Hemenway Gym.
"We have every right to file a complaint, and there's plenty of grounds for it." said COCA member Sean L. Gullette '91. "But there's much more important violence taking place in El Salvador."
Cristiani, a right-wing leader whom critics have linked to several "death squad" killings in his country, visited Harvard this weekend to watch his son, who is a Princeton undrgraduate, play squash. His trip sparked several protests by COCA and the Boston-based Central American Solidarity Association, culminating in an effort to block the Salvadoran leader from leaving Hemenway, which prompted the police action.
But both Harvard administrators and federal enforcement officials said they were unaware of any excessive force used against the demonstrators.
Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said yesterday that he had heard no personal accounts of what took place. "It was not an area we were responsible for or took any part of the action," Jewett said.
Similarly, Richard W. Terry, who heads Boston's Secret Service bureau, said he was not aware of any complaints about the conduct of his agents.
"I think we have a good sense of how things should be done over there," said Terry, who was not present atSunday's demonstration. "We're primarily concernedwith the person we protect."
Terry said he was not at liberty to reveal thespecific orders given to agents during theprotest.
Although COCA members said they will not filean official complaint, they said they would liketo talk with the Harvard official who authorizedthe Secret Service to limit the gym's access tomembers of the players' families. No one from thegroup has thus far attempted to discuss theincident with an administrator, they said.
Jewett said he was not responsible for Sunday'ssecurity measures, but "would be happy toparticipate" in any future discussion about theincident that students might want to have.
Dean of Students Archie Epps III declined tocomment
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