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Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Anger and grief in Miami
Lazaro Gonzalez's home
Demonstrators outside the home from which Elian was snatched
Members of the Cuban-American community in Miami have reacted angrily to the pre-dawn seizure of Elian Gonzalez by armed federal officers.

Expressions of anger and grief have also come from the boy's Miami relatives.

What has happened is a shameful, shameful thing. This is a dark day in America's history

Miami Mayor Joe Carolla
Hundreds of protesters have come out onto the streets, gathering near the home from which Elian was seized and at major street intersections in an attempt to disturb the traffic.

There have been pockets of disturbances. In a few incidents protesters have thrown rocks at police personnel and vehicles. Rubbish has been scattered on the streets and in some places set alight.

Other demonstrators waved Cuban and upside-down American flags. One man wandered through the Little Havana neighbourhood holding up a cross to which a baby doll was pinned.

Some of the demonstrators have been carrying an Associated Press photograph showing a helmeted federal agent armed with an automatic rifle confronting a man holding Elian in his arms as an illustration of their grief.

Many protesters directed their anger at US President Clinton and Attorney-General Janet Reno.

A family's grief

Hoarse and emotionally drained, Marisleysis Gonzalez, Elian's cousin, said she had pleaded with the agents to put away their guns.

Janet Reno and everybody else, don't say you came here with no violence and that this boy is okay. How can this boy be okay when he had a gun to his head?

Elian's cousin Marisleysis
"Please, we'll give you the boy, don't let him see this. He's seen enough, seeing his mother's death. We don't want this. We're not going to do anything. We're not armed."

She also directed her anger at the US attorney-general.

"Janet Reno and everybody else, don't say you came here with no violence and that this boy's okay. How can this boy be okay when he had a gun to his head?

"Now they've really done the harm. They have already psychologically traumatised Elian when they put that gun near him and when he saw what was going on in this house," Marisleysis said.

Protester holds up picture
The picture that has drawn much outrage
Donato Dalrymple, the fisherman who had rescued Elian from the sea, was holding the boy when he was seized.

"Elian was screaming 'Que pasa? Que pasa?' And he was screaming 'Help me. Help me. What's going on?' And I held his head next to my shoulder to try and protect him and they busted the door down and they came in with assault weapons.

"They took this kid like a hostage in the night," Mr Dalryple said.

"It's as if they were taking a terrorist, a hostage. And they grabbed the boy. They grabbed this boy physically. They hurt him physically and emotionally. They ripped him from my arms," he said. .

'A shameful thing'

Miami's Mayor, Joe Carollo, was furious at the action: "What has happened is a shameful, shameful thing. This is a dark day in America's history."

Demonstrators seeking consolation
Miami's Cuban-American's console themselves
Clara Vandeya of the Cuban National American Foundation also expressed anger.

"We are very surprised at the way they took this child. This is totally unjust, and we are very upset right now. We hold responsible Janet Reno and President Clinton and the administration for this atrocity," Ms Vandeya said.

Ralph Anrrich, a social worker helping Elian's Miami relatives, said: "This is like crucifying the Messiah all over again. This is a slap in the face to the Cuban-American community and the Christian community."

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See also:

22 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Elian seized
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Analysis: Elian divides America
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Janet Reno's statement
12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
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