Four Harvard Students Arrested In Gay Rights Protest

This story was written by Esther I. Yi,
Four members of Harvards Right to Serve tour were arrested Wednesday morning at a military recruiting station in Portland, Maine on the charge of criminal trespassing.



The arrested members were Samantha G.M. Barnard 09, Robert J. Ross 09, Amary K. Wiggin 09, and Jacob P. Reitan, a Harvard Divinity School student who first conceived of the tour.



Twenty Harvard students have been traveling since Saturday on a week-long trip up and down the east coast to protest the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy barring openly homosexual or bisexual recruits from enlisting in the armed services.



The group met with Maine Senator Susan M. Collins, a moderate Republican, at a Memorial Day parade on Sunday. Jarret A. Zafran 09, president of the Harvard Democrats, said the senator refused to answer questions about co-sponsoring a bill that would end Dont Ask, Dont Tell.



At the Portland recruiting station today, Reitan attempted to enlist as an openly gay male, upon which a military official cited the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy to stop the procedure.



The 20 members remained in the station to protest the policy, and after approximately 30 minutes, the police came to formally ask the group to leave the premises. Four of the 20 did not cooperate, leading to their arrest.



As the four sat in jail, a news channel on the television set before them documented their recent arrest. Fellow inmates asked for their signatures, Ross said in a telephone interview.



Even some of the police officers who were going through our finger prints and mugshots said they support our cause and encouraged us to continue our movement, Ross said.



During the conversation between the protesters and the military officials at the station, some officials showed sympathy for the cause, according to Ross.



Ross said they suggested the group lobby lawmakers, not the officials carrying out the law. But the rising Winthrop House senior said that he believed that the recruiting station is a site of discrimination and thus a valid place to protest.



The four arrested individuals were released on bail, but they will appear for court in July.



Reitan, who has now racked up 11 arrests for protesting various gay and lesbian causes, said the group members were well aware of the likelihood of arrest when they entered the station.



Ross called the arrest a badge of honor.



Were getting it proudly, he said.



Wiggin said she feels no remorse whatsoever over her arrest.



The more I do this, the deeper my commitment grows, Wiggin said. Its nothing to be ashamed of.



Staff Writer Esther I. Yi can be reached at estheryi@fas.harvard.edu.
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