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Albert Funaro defends his president

Islip - During the first half-hour of chanting, Albert Funaro had stood about 50 feet from the demonstrations, occasionally leaning over his 12-year-old son Danny's head to speak to a friend wearing a Nixon hat.

After a while, Funaro began leaning the other way, toward the sign-waving protesters who were alternately shouting, "Peace now" and "Stop killing." At first, he had his arms folded over his tan, fake-leather jacket, but the arms began to move as his voice got louder. "Why don't you go over there?" he asked the group of about 75 protesters. "Why don't you go to Hanoi and live with them? You're a bunch of creeps. Punks, that's all you are. I'm sick and tired of the whole damned mess in this country. It's time the working man was heard. I don't need punks like you."

Funaro got little in the way of response from the demonstrators, so he began talking directly to a girl who seemed to have walked from their midst, "Why don't you go over there to Hanoi?" he should. "Do you someday intend to have kids? Do you intend to tell your kids what you were doing here tonight? I seen the word 'pig' on one of them signs. Anybody that carries a sign saying the President is a pig ought to be thrown out of here, off the field. I'm a Republican for the last 10 years, but no matter what I am he's still my President."

The girl, 21-year-old Diane Niccolettie of Patchogue, said "Didn't you ever call anybody a bad name, a dirty name? You have the right to do that, right?"

"Yeah," Funaro shot back. "But he's the President, I think it's a disgrace. If I had my way, I'd get 50 guys, that's all I'd need, 50 guys who work with me on construction, and I'd throw you the hell off the field." Diane, a Georgetown University student, told Funaro that she thought everybody had a right to his opinion.

"That kind of opinion doesn't go in this country," Funaro said. "It doesn't go in Russia, either. They'd shoot you on sight over there."

Melanie Matejic of Bohemia began arguing on Diane's side, and two men, one of whom would identify himself only as "a man who loves his President," joined Funaro. The debate went from war to taxes to President Nixon, who by that time was an hour late in arriving at Islip MacArthur Airport. When he did arrive, the debate broke up, but not before Funaro had told the gathering group around him: "I got two guns at home now. Know why? For protection for myself from people like the people I seen here tonight. Don't forget, those signs represent only one per cent of this country, and that means there's 99 percent against you. Remember that. I don't believe in this protest stuff . . . I don't need laws for hoodlums like them. Nobody shoots me first. I got my own law. Nobody comes first to kill me . . ."

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