Ten members and supporters of the Community for Creative Non-Violence were arrested at the National Visitor Center last night as the radical Christian group continued its protests over the Interior Department's decision Saturday to close a portion of the center that was being used as a temporary shelter for homeless "street people."
The arrests were made about 10:30 p.m. after a group of about 50 protesters gathered in a passageway between the main Visitor Center and the Union Station train platform and began singing.
When U.S. Park policemen warned the group that they would be arrested if they did not disperse, most of the group left. Six men and four women remained and were arrested on charges of unlawful entry.
Earlier yesterday 19 CCNV members and sympathizers who were arrested in simliar protests Sunday were released from jail and ordered to appear for trials in January.
Following a "noncooperation" tactic of the radical Christian group, the 19 refused to be processed by D.C. Bail Agency workers and were held overnight in jail and brought before D.C. Superior Court Judge Eugene N. Hamilton yesterday. He ordered them released on personal recongnizance.
Another 11 arested protesters, who were willing to cooperate with the bail agency, were released directly from jail earlier on bail citations.
One of those arrested last night was Mitch Snyder, a principal leader of the protest. Snyder also was among those arrested Sunday and changed afterward that he had been beaten by several D.C. police officers. Police Lt. Lawrence Byrd, assigned to investigate Snyder's claim, said yesterday that "early indications are the allegations are incorrect." He said the investigation is continuing.
Snyder, who was hospitalized briefly after the Sunday incident, appeared at the center last night in a wheelchair. When it came his turn to be arrested, police helped him from the chair into a patrol wagon, then took the chair in a separate car to police headquarters for his use later.
So far there have been 42 arrests of CCNV members and supporters -- including at least two arrested twice -- since the closing of the Visitor Center shelter Saturday. Organizers have vowed to return each night and seek arrest until federal officials agree to reopen the shelter area.
Twenty-two persons were arrested early Sunday morning after they attempted to block traffic on Massachusetts Avenue NE in front of the Visitor Center. They were charged with unlawful assembly. Sunday night, a sit-down protest inside the center resulted in 10 more arrests on charges of unlawful entry.
Snyder, interviewed yesterday at D.C. General Hospital, said he was dragged and kicked by several officers when he refused to stand up and walk to be fingerprinted and photographed at the 1st District police substation at Fifth and E streets SE on Sunday.
He said one officer dragged him in a headlock and pressed a thumb against his windpipe, choking him, in an apparent effort to force Snyder to stand up. At another point, Snyder said, he was kicked in the stomach, rib cage and left forearm and then thrown down a short flight of stairs.
At the hospital, his left forearm appeared swollen and speckled with small reddish bruises. He was being fed intravenously through a needle in his right wrist. A nurse said doctors did not want him to eat or drink while they examined possible damage to his throat.
Two other protersters who had been arrested, John Shiel and Tim Siegel, said in interviews that they saw an officer draggins Snyder by the neck and jabbing his thumb against his windpipe.
Snyder said he did not resist or fight back but was "simply noncooperative" as part of hs protest. Byrd said Snyder had to be "physically carried everywhere once he was in police custody." Early reports indicate police did not use undue force, Byrd said.