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Outraged American sympathizers Tuesday blamed British colonial rule as...

Outraged American sympathizers Tuesday blamed British colonial rule as the killer of Irish Republican Army rebel Bobby Sands and plotted retaliation to give lasting meaning to his 'fast unto death' in Belfast's Maze prison.

Within hours of Sands' death in Ireland, thousands of people demonstrated outside the British consulates in San Francisco and New York. Demonstrations and cries of outrage continued across the nation throughout Tuesday.

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Chanting 'Bobby Sands Lives On,' about 3,500 people in New York City, many holding candles and some carrying a coffin draped with an Irish flag, marched in a three-block procession in front of the British consulate.

The demonstrators, who occupied two lanes of Third Avenue, joined members of the New York H-Block Committee in shouting anti-British slogans and singing pro-Irish songs in front of the consulate.

Committee leader George McLaughlin said earlier on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the march began, that 'Bobby Sands was -- and is now permanently -- a symbol of the oppression of the Irish people.

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'We have gathered here as Irish Americans, as people of conscience for those who will not let Bobby Sands die in vain.'

After an hour of song and prayer, the bagpipers led the protesters on a march south to the British Airways office and backed up traffic for 20 blocks as they crossed a busy intersection.

At the British consulate, they were greeted by the cheers another 2,000 demonstrators chanting, 'Bobby Sands lives on.'

The protesters carried a coffin draped with the Irish flag and formed a three-block picket line in front of the consulate.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who recently returned from a failed attempt to see Sands, described Sands as an 'incredibly courageous' man who 'gave his own life for human rights.'

Workers in New York announced a boycott of British goods and East Coast dockworkers said they would refuse to unload British ships.

'British colonial rule killed Bobby Sands,' said Martin Galvin, a spokesman for the Irish Northern Aid Committee in New York. 'The Irish American community is now aroused and unified. We are militant.'

Irish-American groups ordered a series of demonstrations at British consulates across the United States in memory of the 27-year-old member of Parliament. A major rally was slated Saturday in New York City.

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Mass was said in Pittsburgh for the IRA rebel, and a special mass will be celebrated Friday at Gate of Heaven Church in the heavily Irish South Boston section. The state Legislature was considering a resolution honoring Sands.

Massachusetts Reps. Marie Howe, D-Somerville, and Charles Doyle, D-Boston, said in a joint statement, 'England will rue the day she allowed the right honorable Robert Sands to die for Irish freedom.'

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called Sands' death 'a sad day for Ireland and for all who seek peace in Northern Ireland' and urged all sides to 'resist further calls for violence.'

He urged the British government 'to end its posture of inflexibility, and to implement reasonable reforms capable of achieving a humanitarian settlement of the other hunger strikes, so that the tragedy of Bobby Sands is not repeated.'

House Speaker Thomas O'Neill, D-Mass., called Sands' death 'truly tragic.'

'I appeal to all concerned with the problems of Northern Ireland to reject the bullet and the bomb,' O'Neill said.

Rep. Mario Biaggi, D-N.Y., chairman of the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, charged the British 'displayed arrogance' in spurning pleas for humanitarian handling of the Sands matter.

'It is my fervent hope that the call of Bobby Sands' mother for non-violence will be followed so that the British government can suffer the glare of a much-deserved, negative world reaction,' he said.

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Dr. Charles McCafferty of the Minnesota Irish National Caucus said he was 'appalled at the incredible inflexibility of the British government in their attitude to Mr. Sands' simple demands for political status.'

George O'Donnell, vice president of the Shamrock Club in Columbus, Ohio, said he hoped Sands' death would finally achieve his goal -- withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland.

In Homestead, Penn., Ron Fite and about two dozen other people were at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall when news of Sands' death reached them.

'We will be mourning,' said Fite, a disabled and retired steelworker.

Then, bitterly:

'I think it's England that caused his death.'

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