A small band of Revolutionary Communist Party supporters, shouting "No work, no school, to hell with the white's man's rule," paraded into the cafeteria of Ballou High School in Southeast Washington yesterday and tried to convert the students to their cause.
Instead, the students pelted the intruders with mustard, milk, applies and garbage, helped school administrators corner them in a school courtyard, and cheered D.C. police officers when they arrested six of them.
"They certainly misjudged the kids," said School Superintendent Vincent E. Reed. "I'm very proud of them [the students]."
The Maoist protestors marched into the cafeteria as one of them shouted through a bullhorn. He was followed by a woman who set fire to an American flag and someone who threw a red liquid on the walls and floor as about 500 startled students watched.
"It was a whole lot of nonsense," said Gilbert Davidson, a 16-year-old junior. "They were talking about how the white man treats us, how we used to be slaves and it's time for us to speak up . . . I guess they [thought they were] putting some sense in our heads. But we showed them."
"They're always low-rating us," said Latanye Magruder, a 15-year-old sophomore. "They think we are dumb. I don't see their purpose. I don't understand them. They're confused themselves."
"I thought they were crazy," said Kim Anderson, who was eating lunch when the group entered the cafeteria. "Then when the woman burned the flag, I knew they were crazy. The place just went wild."
It all began shortly before 1p.m., when, according to students, a man walked into the cafeteria and began shouting anti-American slogans over a bullhorn. He was followed by a woman who struck a match and lit an American flag.
A male student rushed up and grabbed the burning flag and threw it outside the cafeteria door. A protester then threw a red liquid on the floor and walls.
The students then began hurling "anything they could get their hands on," according to one student.
Several of the protesters ran outdoors to avoid being hit with food and others ran into an internal courtyard. Teachers herded those protesters into the courtyard as they continued to chant slogans and distrub classrooms of students looking on.
Meanwhile, school officials summoned the police and when they arrived they arrested four of the party supporters in the courtyard and two others on the school grounds. A scuffle broke out between the police and some members of the group who resisted being arrested.
School principal Dennis Johnson said that party supporters had been to the school several times since a television interview with him and several students two months ago. Those interviewed had spoken in favor of the proposal to register young people for the draft; Johnson speculated that the students' patriotic views drew the Revolutionary Communist Party group to the school.
The group, comprised of whites and blacks, had never entered the school at Fourth and Trenton streets SE until two weeks ago when several paraded through the school's hallways, carrying a banner and shouted slogans. But the group left the school before police arrived.
Johnson said school administrators decided that if the group ever entered the school again, they would try to keep them there until the police arrived.
Yesterday, they succeeded.
"We allow anybody who has anything positive to offer the students to come into the school," said Johnson. "But anybody who is going to tell our children not to go to class is crazy. We don't want them around here."
The students agreed. "We don't need to stay out of school," said Rebecca Terrell, a 17-year-old senior. "They don't tell those kids in Maryland or Virginia to stay out of school. They're trying to use us."
"They were disturbing our classes," said Lisa Brevard, a 16-year-old junior."They disrupted my lunch . . . They tell us that it was for our benefit. But they were putting on a front."
Because of the disturbance, the principal postponed a "gong show" that had been scheduled for yesterday afternoon. "Because of the excitement and the high level of tension and not knowing whether somebody (in the group) might return, we decided to postpone it."
A number of students were upset that the show was postponed. "We have been waiting a good three weeks for this," said Latanye Magruder. "everbody is mad. But we don't blame the principal. We blame those people."
Arrested were Robert Hill, 29, of Honolulu; John M. Patterson, 29, and Larry C. Casqueiro, 31, both of 916 N St. NW; Debra A. Henry, 22, and Glynn A. Stone, 21, both of 814 L St. NE.; and Patricia B. Metellos, of 2231 13th St. NW.
All were charged with desecration of the American flag, inciting a riot, destruction of government property and unlawful entry. They were being held last night in the central cellblock.