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Sharpton hails navy leaving

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Sharpton, in Puerto Rico, hails Navy leaving Vieques

By Associated Press, 5/1/2003

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton was in Puerto Rico yesterday to celebrate the Navy's departure from Vieques, the island used for training exercises for more than 50 years.

Sharpton was among a dozen people arrested for trespassing on the Navy firing range on Vieques two years ago to protest bombing exercises there. He served a 90-day federal prison sentence and went on a 43-day hunger strike while he was incarcerated.

''I thank God we won this battle. We haven't won the war,'' Sharpton told a crowd celebrating the Navy's exit. ''I think we have a long way to go . . . to make a humane policy'' in the military.

As of midnight yesterday, the Navy was to turn control of 15,587 acres to the Interior Department. The land, along with 3,100 acres from a munitions warehouse, will create the largest federal wildlife refuge in Puerto Rico.

The transfer marks the end of the Navy's use of Vieques as its main Atlantic Coast training range. Local residents said it was an environmental and safety hazard and began protesting against the range after an April 1999 bombing accident killed a civilian security guard.

Activists occupied the range for a year after the accident, preventing exercises until they were forcibly removed by US marshals.

The military and many of its supporters in Congress had argued that the facility provided an ideal location for Navy training.

This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 5/1/2003.
Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Du vieques { February 4 2001 }
Navy leaves after bombing six decades { May 1 2003 }
Navy leaves vieques { May 1 2003 }
Sharpton hails navy leaving
Vieques activist released { October 7 2002 }
Vieques cheers navy exit { May 1 2003 }

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