The snow had let up sufficiently to allow some of the press to move among the activists with their cameramen. The man from CBS-TV News walked next to Drezella Fusten. He looked at her circular Iona Dell button that her group wore today.
“Miss I’m from CBS-TV news. Is it okay to talk to you? You’ll be on the news later. I have a bunch of questions for you.”
“Okay.” She slowed down but continued in the circle on the inside with the reporter. The cameraman aimed the video machine at the two of them supporting it with his shoulder. Fusten thought this would be great. Iona Dell could actually see her in action.
“Is it okay for you to give your name?”
“Drezella Fusten. I’m the local Iona Dell Chapter President.”
“That’s great. My first question is how long have you been out here and when do you quit?”
“The Dell supporters have been here since about 8 o’clock and we finish tomorrow morning at 7 AM.”
“How do you arrange for food and necessary breaks?”
Fusten explained about the two bus rotation, lunch, the bus bathrooms and the warmth breaks.
“That’s real commitment and planning. What do you hope to accomplish?”
“Just like Iona Dell, we want to draw attention to the futility of a war we never should have been involved in. Any war causes death, despair and injury. That’s why we chose the Naval Hospital.”
“Not everyone has Dell buttons. Who are the rest of these people?”
“I’m glad you asked. The others are also concerned citizens expressing their own protest and support of President Nixon’s objective of ending the war.” Iona Dell’s instruction was to capitalize on the non-club activists to show there was no real polarity to America’s public outcry groups. Fusten loved the direction the questions were taking.
“Did any member of the Iona Dell Fan Club take part in this morning’s tossing of the excrement-filled balloons at the bus?”
“God no. That was awful. The stuff splattered all over everyone. We had to go back and clean-up and change our clothes.”
“Iona Dell is meeting with the North Vietnamese in Hanoi today. Is that correct?”
“That’s what we were told.”
“The message of her meeting with the enemy is clearly anti-American. Is your picketing of the Naval Hospital also a message that you’re against the American soldier whose only mission is to defend their country?”
“Not at all and I disagree that Iona’s mission is anti-American. It’s pro-American and definitely anti-war. That’s what we’re about. We are here today to draw attention to the effects of war–on how it maims and disfigures America’s youth in the prime of their life.”
“But she burned the American flag and is pro-Communism.”
“She, and we, are not pro-Communism. Iona has stated publicly that Democracy will not work for Vietnam. It is not right that the United States should force a political ideation upon a people by military might. And about the flag–she didn’t burn it, the North Vietnamese did that.”
The CBS interviewer paused while the cameraman brushed the snow from the video cam. He signaled for more live action.
“Clearly Ms. Fusten, North Vietnam invaded the South to ram Communism down the throats of the South Vietnamese. Such aggression tells the American public that Iona Dell is not anti-war and that she’s taken a side in the Vietnam conflict.”
“You are wrong. Even President Nixon sees the error and misinterpretation of the North Vietnamese actions. He, and us, want the Vietnam War to end.”
“So you and this entire group are definitely non-violent and the throwing of the projectiles this morning was just from a few radicals?”
“Yes.” Fusten blew the answer in a visible water-vapor breath.
“Thank you for your words.” The CBS microphone then moved to one of the men without a Dell button.
“Excuse me sir. We’re recording for CBS News. I would like to get your thoughts for the viewing public.” He thrust the microphone toward Pellagra’s face.
“Fuck off. You’re slowing our circle.” Pellagra had his scarf and gloved hands covering his face. He had told the others to likewise cover-up from any camera. After the attack, the authorities would be looking to identify the perpetrators. He pushed the cameraman off balance but the man didn’t fall.
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