Sunday, July 11, 2021

NeWSPaPeR: Rochester, NY - 2500 to march on depot

August 1, 1983 - Democrat and Chronicle
PeHP source: Suzanne Sowinska

'They've got so much so much bitterness against them now'

Protesters' lifestyles, tactics damage image

By Jody McPhillips

ROMULUS  - Romulus residents say tension in the communities near the Women's Encampment for a Future of the Peace and Justice has grown in recent weeks for reasons that have nothing to do with anti-nuclear protest.

They say they are outraged over acts of ... [gap in article image recovery] ... southeast of Rochester.

Said Elsie Roach of Romulus, "I don't like the damage they've done at the depot that they've gotten away with."

Women at the camp outside the Seneca Army Depot suspect the base of being an arsenal for nuclear weapons. The camp was inspired by a two-year vigil of British women at a U.S. Air Force base near London, an intended destination for U.S. cruise missiles.

Roach, who has worked at the depot for 10 years, said she was referring to cut fences, and painting on the depot water tower.

"I also don't like the public displays of lesbianism," she said. "We've never been exposed to that and we don't want to be."

Residents took to their porches and front yards yesterday, saying they want to keep an eye on developments in the wake of a demonstration in the nearby village of Waterloo Saturday.

"I just pray to God nobody gets hurt," said Richard Hathaway, who sat surrounded by his family on his front porch on Romulus' Main Street.

"I'm going to protect me and mine. Nobody bothers me, that's fine, but nobody's coming into my house," he said.

The residents complain that women from the encampment have disrobed in local laundromats to wash their clothes and have showered publicly in a Waterloo car wash and at Sampson State Park.

William Roach, Elsie Roach's husband, said the presence of a witches (sic) coven is hurting the anti-nuclear focus of the camp. "All the townspeople are talking about it. They're pretty bitter."

The Roaches said they housed two Elmira women who fled the camp last month July claiming they were harrassed (sic) by witches.

"Townspeople don't care for it," he said. Roach said a neighbor who witnessed the coven in action one night at the depot's gate told him the coven's leader had a group of women "under a spell."

A woman who would only identify herself as Sharon from New York City said yesterday that she was a member of a 13-member coven up for the weekend.

Hathaway said the women's behavior has diluted any message they are trying to get across about nuclear war. "They got so much bitterness against them now, if they stay here another 20 years, they're not going to change anybody's mind (about nuclear war)," he said.

Roach said, "I don't mind the anti-nuclear protest. But they keep hollering (that they are) 'Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful' when they are anything but."

As for the counter demonstration in Waterloo Saturday, in which townspeople blocked a march by the women campers, Roach said, "It's the first time anybody ahs stood up to them and said, 'We don't want you.' I wish the people in Romulus would do the same."

Hathaway and Roach said many townspeople are convinced that the women are breaking the law and getting away with it. They're mad at the women, and just as mad at the depot officials for letting them get away with trespassing and vandalism.

Women who have climbed or cut through the fence surrounding the 11,000-acre depot have been issued federal "bar letters" warning them not to do it again. Local residents call the letters "a slap on the wrist."

The women arrested Saturday during the march through Waterloo face up to 15 days in jail and fines.

Waterloo residents said they were angry about the demonstrators' refusal to carry an American flag as they marched and about reports some women desecrated the flag.

"They have the right to demonstrate, but it should be in the American way," said Vietnam veteran Joe D'Augustine of Waterloo. "Too many men and women have died over the years to protect that flag."

Harold O'Connors, commander of the Waterloo Veteran of Foreign Wars post, was one of the townspeople who blocked the march through town Saturday.

"I don't think anybody understands exactly how it (the counter demonstration) came about. A lot of people were shocked," he said.

"It was a spur of the moment. I don't think you'll find one person who is for nuclear war, right on up to the President. But these people want to leave us susceptible" through disarmament.

"It's not right," he said.
Sign reads: "Pinko Dykes should camp with the commies in Moscow"
2500 to march on depot

Seneca residents threaten to form barrier, spark 3rd day of confrontation

ROMULUS - About 2,500 women were set to stage a noontime march from Sampson State Park to the Seneca Army Depot today after a weekend marked by confrontations between nuclear arms protesters at a women's peace encampment and Seneca County residents.

Last night in Interlaken, townspeople carrying American flags taunted 25 women holding a vigil outside the South Seneca Elementary School to protest the jailing there of 53 women who were involved in a confrontation Saturday with Waterloo townspeople. The women dispersed about 30 minutes after the shouting began

As of last night, 48 women were still being held on $50 bail each on charges of disorderly conduct.

Some Seneca County residents said yesterday they would form a human barrier to physically prevent the women from entering government property during the march. The women say they will engage in civil disobedience at the depot.

Seneca Army Depot Spokesman Robert Zemanek said yesterday that 450 extra military personnel will be at the depot today because of the demonstration. He said the additional troops at the camp came from Fort Dix, N.J., Fort Belvoir, Va., and Fort Bragg, N.C.

If a confrontation should occur, it will mark the third straight day that local residents have clashed with women. The women are camping at a 52-acre farm adjacent ... [gap in article image recovery] ... and vowed to stop the anti-nuclear demonstrators.

We're going to stop them from getting on the base," William Rivers, of Seneca Falls, told a passenger in a car that stopped to congratulate the counterdemonstrators. "We're going to form a human chain. They're going to have to break through our hands."

The people vowing to stop the women were from towns surrounding Romulus, where the camp is located, on Route 96, one mile from the depot.

The women plan to gather at Sampson State Park, on the west side of the depot, at 9 a.m., and later split into two groups for a noon march on two of (sic) depot's western gates.

The women say they are marching to protest the United States nuclear weapons policy. They claim nuclear weapons are stored at the depot. It is military policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at any installation.

The estimated 2,500 women expected to participate in today's march have come from many states and several countries.

The march is scheduled to begin at noon. Most will leave the park south on Route 96A to the depot's truck gate, two miles away. Toni Fitzpatrick, a camp spokeswoman, said a non-violent protest is planned.

Another group is planning to march north on Route 96A to the air strip, approximately four miles from the park. Their plans are less clear, Fitzpatrick said, but all will involve some sort of civil disobedience.

Civil disobedience is perceived (sic) different ways by different members of the camp, she said. Some believe it means that they won't harm anything, while others believe that destruction of property can occur as long as no one is hurt, she said.

Although plans call for demonstrations at those two places, "I would venture to say people are going to take action in several different places," Fitzpatrick said.

The group of 20 local residents who staged a counter-protest outside the depot yesterday said they won't tolerate any law-breaking.

"Tomorrow there'll be a lot more of us," said Nicholas White of Waterloo. "I've talked to people from Seneca Falls, Waterloo and Geneva who said they're coming down. A lot of people are afraid it's going to turn into violence.

The depot has spent at least $700,000 on ... [gap in article image recovery] ... school board, said the Interlaken school was selected a month ago as a possible site to hold any protesters that might be arrested if a state of emergency had to be declared in Seneca County.

"We didn't see how we could really turn them down," Beardsley said last night. He said county officials told him they selected the school because it was away from the immediate area of the depot and the encampment.

Interlaken is 12 miles southeast of the depot.

Earlier in the day, about 20 angry residents waived American flags 20 yards outside the main gate of the depot in Romulus ... [gap in article image recovery] ... Always," Protestors painted out "Mission First," leaving "People Always." The military yesterday hired sign painters to paint "Mission First" back on the tower. By 4 p.m. the slogan was restored. Onlookers cheered the signpainters (sic).

The depot employs about 1,000 civilians, about 90 percent who live in the communities surrounding Romulus. Employment at the depot accounts for about one in every 14 jobs in Seneca County.

In the past, protests have been mainly limited to quiet vigils.

"Obviously we're concerned anytime we have a large number of people vowing civil disobedience and a large number of people whose intentions we don't know," Zemanek said.

Planning for today's march was interrupted as many women concentrated on freeing the women were were (sic) still jailed.

Saturday's arrests saddened and angered the women, who charged that police had arrested the wrong people.

About 60 women had gathered earlier that day in nearby Seneca Falls and planned to march through Waterloo, four miles west of Seneca Falls, then continue south to the encampment about 12 miles away. The march was intended to draw attention to the women's role in society but when they reached Waterloo, about three miles into their march, 75 women were confronted by a jeering crowd of about 300 people that formed a human barrier and blocked their way.

The confrontation, which occured (sic) just south of Main Street grew out of a conversation among Vietnam veterans, said Joe D'Augustine yesterday. D'Augustine and his brother Michael operate the Franklin Hotel on Route 96 near the canal. D'Augustine said he heard last Sunday that the women were planning to march through Waterloo Saturday.

"I'd heard they'd defaced the American flag, and I didn't like what I heard," he said. "I said we ought to block the bridge on them. I figured we'd get 10 to 15 Vietnam vets, at most."

But members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Waterloo learned of this counterdemonstration and offered to help the Vietnam veterans put up American flags in the downtown area, D'Augustine said.

By noon Saturday, the crowd grew to 300, a sight that left D'Augustine aghast. "We were just going to make out point and let ...[gap in article image recovery]...yesterday said he had no choice but to act as he did Saturday.

"I was very disappointed in the behavior of not only the women from the encampment but also the local citizens," Greer said. He said he intended to order the dispersal and hoped the incident would end. But nobody moved when he made his announcements over a loud speaker.

Greer said it did not matter who was right and who was wrong in that situation. "It wasn't a matter of who was blocking who (sic)," he said. "I cannot by any stretch of the imagination, with the small amount of deputies that I had, start at both ends (of the stalemate) simultaneously."

Asked by a reporter why he began arresting the women and not the townspeople, Greer replied, "I have no further comment on the matter."

Greer Saturday declared state of emergency in Seneca County, enabling him to solicit aid from surrounding county sheriff's departments.

What was particularly upsetting to the women throughout the day yesterday was that a man accused of carrying a loaded rifle at the confrontation was releases on his own recognizance while the women were arrested for walking. That man was Raymond Woodard, 31, of RD 1 Waterloo, who was charged with menacing.

Another local resident who was released was Melley Kleman, the only villager who stepped forward and joined the protestors. "I thought someone from the town should stand up for the rights of people to march," she said, adding she was disturbed by the incident because, "We're a nice town."

"I know many of these people and they are better people than that," said her husband, Thomas Kleman, a senior vice president of St. Lawrence National Bank in Waterloo.

[Gap in article image recovery] ... materialized, but about 50 of the estimated 500 women camping at the site and sleepless nights anyway. Security crews of 30 each, working in three to four hour shifts, patrolled the perimeter of the campsite and an all-night candlelight vigil was held in front of the main building.

At 2:45 a.m., the two women who made bail returned to the camp where they were met by cheers. All but six of the women refused to give the names to police and were listed as Jane Doe, something that officials say will mean further legal complications.

The women who returned to the encampment refused to give their names but said they were from Brooklyn, said they couldn't join the others in declaring Jane Doe status because they had to go to work Monday.

At 4:15 a.m. Sunday, a sheriff's transport vehicle passed by the encampment with the women who were en route to Interlaken. Women in the van screamed and cheered from the barred windows. The few women still awake at the encampment yelled back.

Reporting for this story was done by staff writers Erik Gunn, Laura Meade, Jody McPhillips, and Metro Editor Lou Ziegler. It was written by Dena Bunis.


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