29 Depot fence-crossers apprehended
Security staff handcuffs, photographs, releases peace camp members.
By Carol Ritter, Laura Meade and Janice Sue Wang
ROMULUS – Security officers apprehended 29 women who climbed over or crawled under a fence to enter Seneca Army Depot yesterday during the largest anti-nuclear demonstration there of the summer.
The 29, including six who authorities said also had previously entered the depot illegally, were among a group of more thatn 100 owmen who gathered outside the depot’s main gate on Route 96 to protest the nuclear arms race and commemorate the atomic-bomb explosion in the Japanese city of Hiroshima 39 years ago.
The demonstration, called a “Day of Focus” by the women, fell almost on the anniversary of a massive demonstration at the depot last Aug. 1 that drew an estimated 1,600 women protesters.
The women taken into custody yesterday were handcuffed and photographed by the depot security staff before they were released. Depot spokesman Robert Zemanek said the six second offenders were given tickets ordering them to appear before a federal magistrate in Rochester, while the others were given letters barring them from further trespass on depot property.
About 20 women were at the gates by 10 a.m., but the gates stood open until guards closed them at 11:15 a.m. when most of the women who demonstrated arrived from the Women’s Encampment for Future of Peace and Justice, a mile north of the gate on Route 96.
The early arrivals, mostly members of the Rochester Women’s Action for Peace, spent more than an hour tying 6,001 short pieces of red yarn onto the fence.
The group claims the American and Soviet arsenals now have weaponry 6,000 times as great as the weaponry used in World War II.
When all the women had gone, by mid-afternoon, a security guard began cutting off the pieces of yarn that covered several large sections of the fence.
The demonstration that lasted more than two hours featured what the women called a “Missile America” contest. Women held aloft cardboard models of American missiles while one woman acting as emcee introduced the missiles as if they were contestants in a beauty pageant.
“Look, it’s a cruise. Isn’t it beautiful?” the emcee shouted, and women in the crowd booed loudly. At the end of the pageant, several women tore the missiles to pieces and piled them on the ground.
About two dozen spectators and a dozen police officers watched from the sidelines as the omen circled, danced, sang, and acted out their concerns over the arms race.
Marion Winkelman, a Geneseo schoool teacher, and Frank Carvers of Trumansburg, Tompkins County, stood at the back of the protesters holding a banner with the words, “Choose Life.”
“I teach about Hiroshima every year and I always teach about the atrocities and deaths,” said Winkelman, who lived in Japan for several years. “The ones who were punished were those unfortunate to get in the way of a nuclear holocaust.”
“That was war. This is now a matter of life and death for the planet,” she later said.
Carver said he came “because I believe strongly in the words of the Lord” ‘I have placed before you death and life. Choose life.’”
Several women strung a huge web of yarn from the fence to a stop sign at the end f the driveway, saying it symbolized the interconnections of all living things on the earth. But almost as soon as they were finished, about a dozen teen-agers who said they live in Romulus began tearing down the yarn web.
Thirteen-year-old Harry Telbock said he was ripping the yarn off the fence “because it’s a bunch of bull. I wish these bums were out of here.”
“This is wrong, what they’re doing, blocking the gate and stuff,” added a blond youth who refused to identify himself. “It’s just childish.”
Several of the protesters argued with Ruth Stanover, a flag-waving Waterloo resident who has repeatedly confronted anti-nuclear protesters. During a demonstration by about 45 women July 16, Stanover crawled under the depot fence shouting that she was trying to call attention to the local residents’ disapproval of the peace camp and its actions.
Stanover said yesterday that there was “no way” would [sic] she illegally enter the depot again, but she said she would continue to argue against the demonstrations. Yesterday, she and her daughter, Debbie Cator, helped Romulus teen-agers tear down the yarn webbing, as several women tried to reattach the brightly-colored strands.
When the demonstration broke up, the women returned to the peace camp. Then nine left to hand out leaflets in two nearby communities, Ovid and Geneva, arriving at both places at 3:30 p.m.
In Ovid, four women were met with mixed response from the few people on the street. About half the people they approached accepted their handouts, but they stopped the distribution at 4:20 p.m. after the mangers of the Big M and Super Duper markets ordered them out of their parking lots.
Where they stopped, the people talked about them and their literature afterward.
At one point, a group of four teenagers walking down the sidewalk were reading the handouts. Customers in Jay’s Soda Bar also discussed the information, but many said the protesters were wasting their time.
Catherine Allport of New York City walked into several of the stores on Main Street in Ovid, drawing mixed reactions. Gordon “Scorch” Jensen, co-owner of Mr. T’s Head to Toe shop, accepted a fistful of anti-nuclear literature, but said the protests wouldn’t do any good. “It’s not going to accomplish anything,” he said. “They’ll (nuclear weapons) always be there.”
But, he said to Allport as she left, “I will read it, dear. Thank you very much.”
In Geneva, five women stopping passerby [sic] on Exchange and Castle streets disposed of their leaflets in about 40 minutes. Some people shrugged off the literature, while others accepted it and began reading as they walked away.
"Doreen Caravita of Seneca Falls, NY you are hereby informed that you are barred from this installation for an indefinite period of time. This debarment is predicated upon your misconduct at 1245 hours, on 6 Aug. 84, when you entered Seneca Army Depot without authority."
Evidence/Property Custody Document. Owner: Caravita, Doreen. Obtained: 1- Set of Keys, 1- Gold in Color Chain, 1- $20, 1- $5, 6- $1, 1- watch, Misc. Paper, 1 Pr. Shoe Strings.