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Radicals, Police Clash as Thousands of West Berliners March to Protest Today's Visit by Reagan

June 12, 1987|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

BONN — Thousands of demonstrators marched in West Berlin on Thursday to protest today's scheduled visit there by President Reagan, and radicals on the fringes of the march smashed store windows and threw paving stones at riot police.

Some looting was also reported.

Moving to set up protection for the President, Bonn undertook its most extensive security operation in decades, flying an additional 1,000 police into West Berlin from West Germany to augment the regular 9,000-man force in the divided former German capital.

Organizers of Thursday's march, backed by 140 organizations that included many peace groups and leftist organizations opposed to U.S. policies, claimed that 80,000 people took part, but police put the total at about 24,000.

Outbreak of Violence

Marchers shouted anti-Reagan chants and carried banners with such slogans as "USA, International Genocide Headquarters" and "Reagan is a Murderer."

Violence broke out when some of the marchers, wearing the black ski masks and dark clothing that are the unofficial uniform of radical demonstrators in West Germany, began smashing store windows.

When police charged, the masked protesters threw sidewalk paving stones, rocks and bottles, and some witnesses reported seeing gasoline bombs hurled. Wielding shields and clubs and firing tear gas, police charged into the crowds to disperse them. At least one policeman and three rioters were reported injured and three arrests were reported.

Reagan is scheduled to spend only 4 1/2 hours in West Berlin, arriving today at Tempelhof Air Base and visiting the Berlin Wall. Both are far from the scene of Thursday's violence.

Rock Fans Riot

West Berlin authorities have been uneasy since East Berlin youths rioted earlier in the week, incensed at having been prevented from getting close enough to the Berlin Wall to hear rock concerts in the western part of the city where Berlin's 750th anniversary is being observed.

East Berlin policemen wielding truncheons scattered the rioters, many of whom chanted "The Wall Must Go!" and "Gorbachev, Gorbachev!" Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, has embraced a new policy of openness that has allowed public rock concerts in Moscow.

West Berlin authorities have not forgotten that when Reagan visited Berlin in 1982, a peace demonstration turned violent and about 300 people were injured.

Officials point out that most West Germans are grateful to the United States for its support in the years since World War II but that many young people have short memories and take a different view of U.S. officials and their policies.

Only a few weeks ago, young West Berliners rioted to protest the national census. They overturned cars in the working-class Kreuzburg section of West Berlin.

President Reagan is to deliver a speech from a platform at the wall, not far from the Brandenburg Gate, and authorities have strung barbed wire to keep the area clear. He will stand looking up Unter den Linden, the broad avenue in the heart of the old German Empire, and he will be protected by a bulletproof screen.

On their arrival in Berlin, President and Mrs. Reagan will be taken in an armored limousine to Bellevue Castle, where they will be met by West German President Richard von Weizsaecker. Later, at the Reichstag building, where the old German Parliament met, the Reagans will be met by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

They are scheduled to look out across the wall into East Berlin from the Reichstag balcony, and then move a few hundred yards away to where the platform has been put up for his speech. U.S. officials said Thursday that the speech will be a major one, in which Reagan will call for the dismantling of the wall.

East German officials have criticized the President's plan to speak at the wall, which was thrown up in 1961 to inhibit the flow of East Germans fleeing to the West. ADN, the official East German news agency, said that "many citizens of West Berlin share the opinion that (Reagan's speech) will not diminish the wall but make it higher."

Before departing, President Reagan will meet with men and women of the U.S. Berlin Brigade, commanded by Maj. Gen. John H. Mitchell.

From Berlin, the Reagans will fly to the Bonn-Cologne airport for another meeting with Chancellor Kohl, then head back to Washington on Air Force One.

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