A man who said he is a Vietnam veteran was arrested Sunday before a Veterans Day ceremony when he insisted on making a speech criticizing preparations for war against Iraq.
Terrence Rothman, 60, was arrested as the Broward Partnership for the Homeless prepared to honor the homeless veterans living in local shelters.
Rothman, who was staying at the Broward County Central Homeless Assistance Center in Fort Lauderdale, said he served in Vietnam and had been homeless for five weeks. Rothman insisted on reading a one-page editorial that saluted veterans, accused an American scientist of causing the post-Sept. 11 anthrax attacks and spoke out against a possible war with Iraq.
HANDCUFFED: Terrence Rothman is led away from the Broward County Central Homeless
Assistance Center, 920 NW Seventh Ave. CANDACE WEST/HERALD STAFF
''The servicemen and women of our nation are again being asked to offer their lives on foreign soil to prevent conditions which the political and military leadership themselves here at home have developed,'' Rothman wrote.
``The men and women are being asked to attack and destroy a people whose only error is their leadership.''
Ezra Krieg, resource development director of the Broward Partnership for the Homeless, told Rothman he could not read his statement during the ceremony at the homeless center.
''The gentleman wanted to make a political statement during the event. I told him to do it during a house meeting,'' Krieg said. 'He suggested that the only way he'd be stopped is by violence. The moment he said `violent act' I told him he'd have to leave the facility.''
The shelter has ''zero tolerance'' for violence or the threat of violence, Krieg said.
Krieg called Sunday's disturbance ``very unfortunate.''
''It's important to be able to speak your mind, but it has to be in an appropriate setting,'' Krieg said. ``The story today is to honor veterans. It's not for our individual political views.''
While the rest of the homeless veterans practiced marching in step for the ceremony, Krieg and Rothman exchanged words.
Then Krieg had the Fort Lauderdale police called to arrest Rothman, a resident of the shelter for a week.
After talking to Rothman and Krieg, the officer handcuffed Rothman outside of the shelter and put him in the back of the police cruiser.
Police charged Rothman with trespassing. Rothman said doesn't know where he will live after leaving jail. He was kicked out of the shelter.
Copyright 2002 Miami Herald