WASHINGTON -- Police Monday arrested 58 draft protesters who attempted to push their way through police lines in front of the Selective Service System headquarters.
Many of the demonstrators, who were draft registration, were carted away on stretchers when they refused to walk. The demonstrators belonged to a group called the October 18 Resistance Campaign.
According to Selective Service figures, some 500,000 young men have failed to register.
Eleven men have been indicted for failing to register, a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.
The demonstration attracted about 200 people, according to District of Columbia Police Lt. H.K. Brewton, who said the figure included 'the media.'
A police spokesman said the demonstration began at about 7:30 a.m. EST. At 10 a.m. there were about 100 demonstrators standing quietly on a grassy hill in front of the Selective Service building.
Brewton said 43 men and 15 women were arrested when they attempted to cross police lines. They were charged with violating police lines, a misdemeanor that carries a $50 fine. He said there was no violence and that the demonstrators offered 'passive resistance.'
'We took most of them on stretchers,' Brewton said, adding, 'We have an obligation to protect all businesses and agencies in D.C.'
Brewton said the demonstrators and the police had discussed the day's activities prior to today 'and the organizers told us they intended to be arrested. It is our responsibility to keep them out of the building.'
A few demonstrators wore bandanna masks and refused to give their identities.
One, who said he was originally from Little Rock, Ark., and now is 'from around here,' said he had no intention of getting arrested. 'We don't advocate giving up freely to go to jail.'
He said he was born in 1961 and is, therefore, required to register for the draft, but has 'burned a lot of' registration forms.
Another group of demonstrators, formed in a circle and singing softly, said, 'We're not going to shut it down (the Selective Service), we're going to make it obsolete.' A young woman said, 'We're going to prove that love is stronger than war.'
Asked how long they intend to stand in front of the building, another woman said, 'Until our voices get tired.' Another woman added, 'For the rest of our lives.'