L.A. Welcomes Mandela : Fatigued Apartheid Foe Cheered at City Hall Welcome : Portions of His Schedule Cut Back
Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, looking weary as he approached the end of a grueling eight-city American tour, arrived in Los Angeles today to seek help and money in his fight to end white-minority rule in South Africa.
Thousands of people were gathered outside City Hall to hear his first public address in the city. His schedule was being revised on the advice of his doctors, who were concerned about his stamina.
Mandela’s chartered Trump Shuttle landed on a remote Tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport at 12:35 p.m. Smiling as he stepped onto a red carpet, Mandela was greeted by Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Mayor Tom Bradley and several members of the local chapter of Mandela’s organization, the African National Congress.
A small crowd of airport employees cheered as he climbed from the plane. Mandela waved a clenched fist and more cheers erupted.
Mandela, who turns 72 next month, was reported to be extremely tired, but nevertheless went straight from the airport to City Hall, where he received the key to the city.
“I would be surprised if he weren’t tired,” Waters said, pointing to his age and taxing schedule.
Council President John Ferraro said that, on the advice of his doctors, Mandela would skip a planned speech before the City Council.
When Mandela’s arrival was delayed several hours, there were rumors that he would have to pare back his schedule--and perhaps cancel a visit to Oakland.
Organizers said there was some discussion of canceling Oakland because of the difficulty in getting a charter flight from that city to Ireland, the next stop on Mandela’s world tour. After organizers were able to locate a charter flight, they decided to keep Oakland on the schedule. Despite the unexpected delays--he was more than 2 hours late arriving downtown--crowds began gathering on the streets adjacent to City Hall early today hoping to catch a glimpse of the man being hailed as a hero in the movement to end apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial segregation.
“Nothing’s going to stop me from getting a snapshot of him--not even the FBI,” vowed Ann Marie Dumas, 21, of Glendale, clutching a disposable camera on the steps of City Hall. “I’m gonna blow it up, put it in a frame and hang it in my living room--right next my world map and picture of Martin Luther King Jr.”
Between 2,000 and 5,000 people, fewer than organizers had predicted, had gathered by noon.
Security surrounding Mandela’s arrival was tight. Police and State Department security agents roped off City Hall, inspected the area with bomb-sniffing dogs and required anyone entering the building to go through a metal detector.
In addition to the City Hall ceremony, Mandela was scheduled to speak to a near-sellout crowd at the Coliseum sometime after 9 p.m. and greet well-heeled celebrities and business tycoons who paid $1,000 and up to $50,000 to attend a reception at the Armory near the Coliseum.