87 Cuban Refugees Are Removed After Takeover at St. E's

By Martin Weil and Judith Valente
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 21, 1980; 12:00 AM

Eighty-seven Cuban refugees were evacuated yesterday evening from a building at St. Elizabeths Hospital after 17 of them took over the building in a third day of disturbances involving the refugees.

The refugees had been brought here last week for evaluation and treatment of mental and emotional problems. During yesterday's takeover, the 17 reportedly smashed windows and furniture and threatened staff members. No injuries were reported.

After all 87 finally left the building voluntarily in response to orders issued in Spanish over a bullhorn, they were handcuffed, searched and placed aboard waiting buses. The 17 men who took over the building, along with two women also identified as troublemakers, were flown to federal prisons for further psychiatric evaluation, officials said.

The other 68 refugees, who emerged from the two-story brick building into an area filled with helmented D.C. and federal law enforcement officers, were taken to another building on the hospital grounds to wait until the building they had occupied originally could be cleaned and repaired.

After two previous days of disturbances at Building B, a building leased by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as part of the Cuban refugee program, matters began to come to a head yesterday when the 17 Cubans took over part of the building's first floor about 11 a.m.

The Cubans ordered staff members out of the occupied section, and the staff members moved from the area, according to Dr. Larry Silver, coordinator of health programs for the Cuban entry program.

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© 1980 The Washington Post Company