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Martin Sheen, 3 Others Arrested During Protest

May 17, 1990|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Actor Martin Sheen and three others were arrested Wednesday morning after they splashed what appeared to be blood on the front of the downtown Federal Building in the latest of a series of demonstrations there to protest U.S. policies in El Salvador.

"This is the blood of the innocent!" activist Valerie Sklarevsky shouted as she knelt on the front steps to pour the scarlet fluid across her white dress and onto the pavement in front of her.

"Stop the war!" she cried. "Stop the killing! Stop the weapons! Stop the weapons to El Salvador! Wake up, America!"

Before helmeted federal police dragged her away, Sklarevsky tossed a small packet of dirt into the vivid puddle. She said the dirt was stained with the blood of the six Jesuit priests and two women who were massacred--allegedly by government military personnel--in El Salvador six months ago.

She also tossed in several dollar bills, which she said represented money from the U.S. government that was used to train and finance the Salvadoran military.

Sklarevsky said she and several other demonstrators donated blood for their grim spectacle. They brought a total of about a pint of it in small glass bottles.

Sheen, who had carried a large, hand-painted cross in his arms during a short march by the approximately 200 protesters to the front steps, was arrested after he grabbed the bottle that Sklarevsky had dropped and smeared some of the fluid on a marble tablet identifying the structure at Aliso and Los Angeles streets as the Federal Building.

The actor, who remained silent throughout the demonstration and arrests, did not resist and was led away without incident. He has been arrested at more than a score of similar demonstrations.

The two others arrested Wednesday were activist Kiernan Prather, who threw the first blood, and Blaise Bonpaine, a former priest. Police said all four would be charged with malicious mischief, a misdemeanor.

While more spectacular than most, Wednesday's demonstration, which marked the six-month anniversary of the murders in El Salvador, was much smaller than some of the dozen or so that preceded it. On Jan. 17, 234 demonstrators--among them Sheen--were arrested at the Federal Building..

A week earlier, six television reporters and technicians covering one of the protests were arrested there after police said they had strayed into cordoned-off areas that the officers had warned them to stay clear of. On Wednesday, reporters and camera operators maintained a respectful distance, and there were no further arrests.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, about three hours after the demonstration at the Federal Building, about 150 of the participants regrouped in front of the Salvadoran Consulate at 2412 W. 7th St. to renew their protest.

Six managed to make their way into an inner reception room before they were escorted outside by Los Angeles police and the consulate's doors were locked.

The demonstrators prostrated themselves on the sidewalk, one by one, to commemorate the deaths in the fighting in El Salvador, before getting up quickly and disbanding.

As in the past, both of Wednesday's protests were organized by the Wednesday Morning Coalition for Peace and Justice in El Salvador and the United States, named, in part, for the day upon which it holds its demonstrations.

Eight Salvadoran soldiers--a colonel, three lieutenants and five enlisted men--have been charged in the murders, which Salvador's president, Alfredo Cristiani, admits were committed by the military.

However, a congressional task force in Washington that was appointed to monitor the case reported two weeks ago that Salvadoran investigators have made no serious efforts to determine whether more senior officers were involved in the murders.

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