Sylvia Hill, one of the protesters arrested Monday at the South African Embassy, was incorrectly identified yesterday. She is professor of criminal justice at the University of the District of Columbia.
Apartheid protest leaders, whose arrests eight months ago at the South African Embassy helped spark similar demonstrations around the country, returned to the embassy yesterday and were re-arrested after laying symbolic coffins on the front lawn in the name of hundreds they said have died at the hands of the white-ruled South African government.
The protesters said they had decided to get arrested again at the embassy because of a new wave of bloodshed that they fear will follow the Pretoria government's crackdown on political unrest and its recent declaration of emergency powers.
"The South African government's state of emergency is the bitter harvest of the last five years of American policy of constructive engagement with South Africa ," said Randall Robinson, coordinator of the Free South Africa Movement launched by the embassy protests, which began Nov. 21.
In addition to Robinson, D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Mary Berry, Dr. Sylvia Hill and Roger Wilkins were arrested and charged with demonstrating within 500 feet of the embassy, a misdemeanor. Robinson, Fauntroy and Berry held the initial Nov. 21 sit-in at the embassy, while Hill, a Howard University professor, and Wilkins, a columnist and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, were arrested in subsequent demonstrations.
Yesterday, each carried a coffin bearing the name of a person they said had been killed in South Africa while protesting racial oppression. They said more coffins, with more names, will be brought to the embassy demonstrations.
Yesterday's re-arrests, however, also amounted to a challenge to U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova, who so far has declined to prosecute the more than 2,000 demonstrators who have been arrested at the embassy. In dismissing charges against the first groups of protesters last year, diGenova's office had strongly suggested that its attitude toward the demonstrators would change if the protests turned violent or if any protester was arrested there a second time.
DiGenova was out of the country yesterday, but Timothy Reardon, the acting U.S. Attorney, said the office does not discuss its policies.
In some of their strongest statements to date , Robinson, Fauntroy and the other apartheid protest leaders condemned South African president Pieter W. Botha for implementing the emergency powers and said it would be harder now to find out what happens to black protesters.
The demonstrators had equally strong words for the Reagan administration. Robinson called for the resignation of Assistant Secretary of State Chester A. Crocker, who has been called the architect of the administration's policy to bring about gradual change in South Africa.
They also attacked U.S. Sen. Richard E. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accusing him of bottling up antiapartheid legislation in the Senate.
"Just as we say, 'Shame on you, Botha' . . . we say 'Shame on you, Sen. Lugar,'" Wilkins said during a news conference shortly before his arrest.
The House and Senate have each passed legislation that would impose economic sanctions on South Africa, although the House measures are considered tougher. The legislation now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences. Lugar has yet to appoint the Senate conferees.
A Lugar aide said yesterday that Lugar "is the main reason the Senate passed any antiapartheid legislation." The aide said a conference committee will soon meet but that Lugar believes the Senate version is the only one President Reagan might sign.
"Robinson and those people don't know what we're doing up here," the aide said.