Hundreds of Thousands Protest Missiles in Europe : Urge U.S. to Match Soviet Halt
Hundreds of thousands of European anti-nuclear protesters, marching in Easter peace rallies, called on Washington today to match Moscow’s freeze on deploying medium-range missiles.
Arrests of trespassers and demonstrators were reported outside U.S. missile bases in Britain, Italy and West Germany, but police reported no major incidents linked to the anti-nuclear rallies.
In West Germany, about 300,000 people marched in rallies today in 10 major cities, including Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, Nuremberg and West Berlin.
About 20,000 demonstrators in Molesworth, England, braved a downpour to hold hands and place flowers in a fence surrounding a future U.S. cruise missile site.
At a rally outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization cruise missile base in Comsio, Sicily, Italian police arrested three people on charges of violently resisting orders to disperse.
NATO is to deploy 572 cruise and Pershing 2 missiles in Europe by 1989, to counter Soviet SS-20 missiles it says are already in place. Latest Western estimates indicate that 414 of the triple-warhead Soviet weapons have been deployed. The NATO weapons have one warhead each.
30,000 at Training Area
The largest demonstration in West Germany today was near Heilbronn, 50 miles north of Stuttgart, where about 30,000 protesters massed at a U.S. Pershing 2 nuclear missile training ground.
Chanting “Rockets out,” the protesters carried signs that read, “Amis (Americans) Out” and “Work--Not Pershings.”
They joined hands, formed a circle around the base’s half-mile perimeter and released hundreds of blue balloons bearing the silhouette of a white dove into the air.
Eight people who climbed over one of the base’s two security fences were arrested, but no serious incidents were reported.
The protesters later walked into Heilbronn for a rally at which West German Trade Union Confederation official Siegfried Pommerenke called those proposing to put weapons in space “madmen.”
“Weapons are not produced to achieve peace but to make war,” he said. “And now these madmen are getting ready to militarize space. All this is done in the name of balance. We heard the same thing before World War I and World War II.”
RAF Base Surrounded
In England, demonstrators surrounded the Royal Air Force base in Molesworth, about 60 miles north of London, which is to be the future site of 64 U.S. cruise missiles.
At least 19 people were arrested, police said, as protesters hung daffodils and peace symbols on the 7 1/2-mile-long fence surrounding the base. Police said protesters also tried to cut the barbed-wire fence.
It was the third day of Easter demonstrations sponsored in Britain by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
One group of cruise missiles is already stationed at the U.S. military base in Greenham Common, 45 miles west of London.
Two bombs exploded near protest sites in West Germany, causing some damage but no injuries. Police said they were uncertain if the blasts were connected to the protests.
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