Protest march ends with student arrests

By Sylvia Phillips

A protest against U.S. military involvement in Honduras and aid to the Contras ended earlier than planned when four people, including three NIU students, were arrested Wednesday.

Wearing black armbands decorated with white doves and carrying banners which stated, “War games lead to war” and “U.S. troops out of Honduras,” about 50 students, faculty and community members marched from the King Memorial Commons to the ROTC offices at Williston Hall.

Chanting the slogans “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Manifest Destiny has got to go” and “Nicaragua’s not our enemy … hands off Central America,” the group, composed of John Lennon Society and DeKalb Interfaith Network members, marched on Lincoln Highway to the DeKalb Armed Forces Recruiting Center, 205 N. Second St., where police made the arrests.

Some of the demonstrators began writing political slogans with colored chalk on the sidewalk in front of the center. Police requested the group stop writing on the sidewalk. One of the members of the group, Andrew Shankman, a DeKalb Senior High School student and JLS member, quit writing to avoid arrest, but he encouraged others in the crowd to continue.

Police arrested Shankman, 18, 831 W. Taylor St., and charged him with criminal damage to property.

After police led Shankman to the squad car, several demonstrators remained in street, surrounded the vehicle and shouted at the police.

Police asked the demonstrators to leave the street, but the protestors argued with the authorities about Shankman’s arrest. Police then arrested three NIU students. While restraining the demonstrators, police shoved one person onto the hood of a squad car, causing his eyeglasses to fall off.

JLS member James Fabris, 24, was arrested on a charge of disobeying a police officer.

Barry Williams, 39, was arrested on a charge of obstructing a peace officer.

Another NIU student, whose identify could not be verified Wednesday, was arrested on a charge of disobeying a police officer.

No bond was required, and all four demonstrators were released on a notice to appear in court on April 29.

Police said DeKalb Police Chief Joseph Maciejewski is withholding the arrest report and referred questions to the chief. Maciejewski could not be reached for comment about the decision.

All charges were misdemeanors. DeKalb County State’s Attorney Philip Dimarzio said a Class A misdemeanor, such as criminal damage to property, carries a maximum sentence of a fine of $1,000 or one year in jail. Class A misdemeanors carry a minimum sentence of court supervision or probation, he said.

After the arrests, the group changed their intended route. Instead of marching to the post office as originally planned, they went to the DeKalb Municipal Building, where police were holding the four demonstrators. The group circled the building while two Interfaith members discussed the status of the arrested students with DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow.

The focus of the protestors’ chants changed from Central America to the police. Demonstrators shouted, “I know what the cops are for … protectors of the U.S. war” and “hey, hey, ho, ho, police repression has got to go.”

During this time, doors to the inner offices of the of the municipal building were locked. Two policemen were posted inside the building.

“There was concern that if a large number of people got into city hall they might disrupt the operations,” said Maciejewski, who indicated he did not know who authorized locking the building.

Shankman also was arrested March 18 on a charge of criminal damage to property and criminal damage to state-supported property. Police estimated the damage was about $400.

Last year, Shankman brought suit against DeKalb Senior High School after he was suspended for placing nuclear-freeze posters on the walls without the school’s permission. The case was settled out of court.