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Poland Stymies Anti-Government May Day Demonstrations

May 02, 1987|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

WARSAW — Polish authorities used sophisticated crowd control methods and a massive show of police manpower Friday to frustrate plans by opposition activists to stage a May Day demonstration against the Communist regime.

A government spokesman said about 10 million people took part without incident in official May Day parades across the country.

In the capital, Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski said the Communist Party would pursue a policy of "reforms, democratization and general development of the country."

About 200 demonstrators broke through police lines and surged onto the street outside a church where Mass was being sung for sympathizers of the outlawed Solidarity movement.

They chanted "Solidarnosc, Solidarnosc" (Solidarity) and displayed banners reading "Respect for the Law" and "We Need Democracy Like Fresh Air."

But they managed to move only a small distance from the church before policemen waded into the crowd, took away the banners and shoved the demonstrators into trucks.

Meanwhile, police closed much of the northern suburb of Zoliborz to pedestrians and car traffic to keep potential demonstrators from joining the Solidarity worshipers at St. Stanislaw Kostia Church.

Effectively prevented from gathering in large numbers by frequent identity checks and orders to move on, the would-be demonstrators straggled away.

May Day, celebrated as a workers' holiday throughout the world, previously has been the occasion for large-scale clashes between police and demonstrators after Masses by pro-Solidarity worshipers, but the police tactics made it impossible this year.

"The authorities who call themselves working class are ruled by fear," Solidarity founder Lech Walesa said. "Those who consider themselves as the avant-garde of mankind have to hide behind rows of police."

There were also short-lived demonstrations in the Polish cities of Wroclaw, Lodz and Szczecin, involving a few hundred protesters in all.

Poles said the authorities pulled out all the stops to guarantee a large turnout at the official parades. Schoolchildren were required to attend, and workers were told that roll would be called at the site where they were to gather before joining the parade in each city.

Stars of the Warsaw Opera managed to avoid the official parade by sending their understudies to take their place, Polish sources said.

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