'Reagan Ranches' sprouting around country

By JACK LESAR, United Press International

About 60 demonstrators marched from a Depression-style tent city on Boston Common Monday to the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment convention, interrupting the conclave with chants of 'Ronald Reagan, he's no good, send him back to Hollywood.'

The protesters were among hundreds of discontented Americans who holed up in 'Reagan Ranches' -- tent cities reminiscent of the Depression's 'Hoovervilles' -- across the country to protest President Reagan's economic policies.


Tent cities have been set up in a number of cities, including Detroit, Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Houston, and Jersey City, N.J. In Little Rock, Ark., a tent city will be erected Tuesday. Others were to go up Tuesday in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday in Denver and Friday in Dallas.

The communities are the brainchild of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- or ACORN -- a coalition of groups opposed to Reaganomics and other administration policies.


In New York, cold rain and high winds swept a tent city in Brooklyn, toppling some tents, and a federal judge offered Reagan Ranchers shelter in a federal courthouse.

At the same time, about 150 unemployed camped outside a Manhattan union hall in a long wait for job applications to be handed out Tuesday. Job-seekers began lining up Friday.

Monday's protest in Boston marked the first major action since tent cities were set up in more than 15 cities during the weekend.

Organizers said the 'Reagan Ranches' would remain in place until after the Nov. 2 election to remind voters of what Reagan's economic policies have wrought and what the nation can expect if voters choose to - as Republican advertising urges -- 'stay the course.'

Demonstrators marched from the tent city on Boston Common to the housing convention at the nearby Sheraton Boston Hotel. Protesters interrupted a speech and refused to leave the hotel's grand ballroom until Donald I. Hovde, undersecretary of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development agreed to speak with them.

They left after 15 minutes and met with Hovde in a separate room.

Wind-whipped rain buffeted Brooklyn, felling some of the 35 tents pitched in War Memorial Park at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. But Jack Weinstein, chief federal judge for the eastern district of New York, invited protesters who had been staying in the tent city to seek shelter in the U.S. Courthouse across from the park.


'There's a gale and storm and I don't want these people subject to those conditions,' said Weinstein, adding the tent city residents were welcome to spend the night in the courthouse.

'I don't know who they are or what they stand for,' he said. 'I would have done this for anyone.'

The only condition Weinstein set on use of the court building was that they not they demonstrate while inside.

In Manhattan, about 150 men and women lined up in the rain and cold outside the headquarters of the New York City District Council of Carpenters on East 26th Street, waiting to fill out job applications that will be accepted Tuesday. Some spent the entire weekend in line.

A 'Reagan Ranch' in New Orleans featured a 'Nancy Reagan Fashion Show for the Depression-minded' Monday night.

'We picked her basically because she's an unpopular figure,' said ACORN spokesman John Hickey. 'At the same time her husband is following this policy of making working and poor people cut back, she is expanding the luxuriousness of the presidential position. She's getting new decorations, new clothes, new china while her husband's telling everyone else to cut back.

'It starkly shows the hypocrisy of the Reagan administration. For the rich people, the times were ever so good, but for the poor, things are going down hill.'


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