ESSEX, MD. -- -- Baltimore County police yesterday arrested five people, including two Episcopal priests, who were among a group of protesters opposing the departure of about 100 Maryland Air National Guard troops for Central America.
Police said the five, who were arrested about 6 a.m. at Warfield Air Force Base in Essex, are charged with trespassing and failure to obey police orders. On July 4, 13 protesters were arrested at the same site in a similar demonstration against National Guard deployment in Central America.
In the latest incident, five of approximately 100 protesters were arrested as they staged a prayer service in front of the base's main gate. They were identified as the Rev. Dorian McGlennan, 35, and the Rev. Michael Schirmacher, 37, both Episcopal priests; Barbara Jensen, 37, Dana Walbridge, 25, and Waren Wright, 25. All are from the Baltimore area and are members of the Witness for Peace Movement.
The demonstration took place as about 100 Guardsmen boarded planes for what Maj. Howard Freedlander described as routine training exercises in Central American countries, including Honduras.
The protesters claimed that the Guardsmen are doing more than simple training in Central America and are helping to support the Nicaraguan rebels, known as contras, in their effort to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.
At yesterday's demonstration, a large banner bearing the message "No More Vietnams" was lifted over the base's fence with the aid of helium-filled balloons.
Cliff Durand, a spokesman for the Central American Solidarity Committee, said similar protests against National Guard foreign training exercises have taken place across the nation. Durand said governors of about nine states have filed suit against the federal government seeking to block such training sessions.
In June, seven members of Durand's group were arrested when they attempted to meet with Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer to discuss their concerns.