A small but vocal crowd marched in front of the White House yesterday to denounce the U.S. invasion of Grenada as a "racist and futile act of aggression."
Chanting "Troops out of Grenada, Stop the racist war" and "Get off Grenada's land; jobs and peace are our demand," the protesters raised their fists and marched in a circle for about 45 minutes. Then they walked across Pennsylvania Avenue for a rally in Lafayette Square.
There were no arrests in connection with the protest, according to U.S. Park Police, who estimated the size of the group at 250.
Several well-known figures were among the demonstrators, including Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician and author, and Kwame Toure, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael. Members of several social activist groups concerned with recent developments in Africa and Central America also spoke.
"There was an internal struggle inside of Grenada, but that does not give the United States the right to intervene in the internal affairs of Grenada and try to dictate the outcome of that conflict," said Damu Smith of the Black American Network for Disarmament, Peace and Justice.
"The United States and other countries have the responsibility to observe and respect the sovereignty and independence of all nations," Smith said. "We would not allow anyone to come into our country and try to intervene in our internal disputes and install a government. But, that is exactly what the United States is doing in Grenada."
Toure, head of the All African People's Revolutionary Party, a socialist group, declared that "Grenada will be socialist. There is nothing Reagan can do to stop it.
"Reagan should be going into South Africa and Namibia and driving out the oppressive forces there. He should leave peace-loving people alone," he said.
Toure and other speakers described Grenada as "progressive," saying that in recent years the small Caribbean country had installed a form of government that was responsive to the needs of its people. "There is free education and free health care, improved road conditions and affordable transportaion," Smith said.
Spock, standing in front of the White House, told reporters, "We have a president who is trigger happy. He is endangering the lives of our children by creating wars in which they might have to serve."
James Early, a spokesman for the the Organization Opposed to the U.S. Invasion of Grenada, which arranged the protest, said another demonstration is planned for Saturday at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, at 16th and Euclid streets NW.