Although it was the largest act of civil disobedience in Tacoma that anyone could remember, Tacoma's local paper, the McClatchy-owned News Tribune, denied front page coverage to the mass civil disobedience in the Port of Tacoma by supporters of the the port militarization resistance that saw 23 arrested Sunday afternoon. -- Peter Haley of the News Tribune captured some good images, but not all were posted on the News Tribune web site.  --  Reporter Paul Sand quoted as the police's justification for a backpack-and-bag ban fears that protesters would bring chains and locks, but failed to point out that these could easily be carried in pockets of coats or under clothing.  --  The News Tribune also published on Monday a letter supporting the port protest.[2] ...


By Paul Sand

** Demonstrators disobey police **

News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
March 12, 2007
Page B1

[PHOTO CAPTION: Phan Nguyen of Olympia makes a speech about constitutional rights before stepping forward to be arrested after wearing a backpack in an area where police had restricted bags. “All I have in my backpack is a U.S. Constitution,” he said as activists cheered. Photo: Peter Haley.]

[PHOTO CAPTION: Molly Gibbs of Olympia climbs over a barricade Sunday at the Port of Tacoma in protest against the Iraq war.  She was arrested moments later on suspicion of trespassing.  About 60 anti-war demonstrators gathered at the port, where Strykers and other military vehicles from Fort Lewis were being loaded on ships bound for the Middle East.  At least 23 protesters were arrested Sunday afternoon.  [NOTE: At least 100 demonstrators were present, and as far as anyone knows, only one ship is being loaded.  --M.J.]]

Wes Hamilton understood it was only a symbolic act, but the Vietnam War veteran hoped his arrest Sunday in the Port of Tacoma would encourage others to voice their opinions against the Iraq war.

“We’re standing on principle,” said Hamilton, a former Marine, minutes before he climbed over a metal barricade at East 11th Street and Thorne Road and was taken into custody by police.

He was one of at least 23 people arrested Sunday afternoon after they performed peaceful acts of civil disobedience to protest the Iraq war and the movement of Army Stryker brigade vehicles out of the port.

Fifteen people were arrested after they crossed the police barricade, including Olympia City Council member T.J. Johnson. Eight others were arrested after they donned backpacks or bags and crossed into an area where police had banned such items. About 60 protesters attended the event.

In a separate protest-related case, a woman was arrested early Sunday morning after she ignored an officer’s instructions to stop her vehicle and drove into an area of East 11th Street, said police Detective Brad Graham.

In addition to the 24 people arrested Sunday, police have made eight protest-related arrests since March 5.

Sunday afternoon’s arrests were part of a structured, negotiated event involving police and activists.

After the crowd marched from Port of Tacoma Road to East 11th Street, Tacoma police Sgt. Todd Kitselman politely announced the rules: no backpacks, purses or bags beyond this point, and no climbing or hanging anything on nearby fences.

“We want you guys to have a peaceful protest,” he said.

Several minutes passed before 32-year-old Phan Nguyen stepped forward with a black backpack strapped on. He was promptly arrested.

“All I have in my backpack is a U.S. Constitution,” he told police, as the activists cheered and chanted.

In front of reporters and TV news cameras, seven others quickly stepped forward, were detained and placed in patrol cars.

Graham said police restricted the backpacks and bags after protesters brought chains and locks earlier in the week. Officers were concerned they might chain themselves to fences or gates, he said.

The activists then moved about southwest down East 11th Street toward a metal barricade and police dressed in riot gear.

The group discussed who would cross the line. Council member Johnson negotiated the terms with Sgt. Kitselman: They were to cross the barrier one by one and passively give themselves up. Officers would wait until each person had both feet on the ground to make the arrest.

As port workers and riot police watched from either side, 15 people separately climbed over the barricade, were placed in plastic zip-tie handcuffs and walked to a waiting bus. Some read a “citizen's injunction,” a document outlining their reasons against the war.

“We don’t want to be silent,” 53-year-old Olympia activist Molly Gibbs said shortly before she crossed the barrier.

--Paul Sand: 253-597-8872

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By Halley Vance

News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
March 12, 2007
Page B5

Re: “War protesters waste efforts in wrong place” (Your Voice, 3-7).

The protesters who have been at the Port of Tacoma are people who have a clear understanding of our political process. They have been writing to politicians, protesting in Olympia and in Washington, D.C., and doing their best to change policy through channels given civilians to make a difference.

The logic behind protesting at the port is that we are sending yet another message, through the media, through police who see us there and tell friends and family, and through soldiers who wave and give us peace signs.

A majority of the American people does not support this war or the escalation of troops, and has not for a long time. Our voices are not being heard when we protest at the Capitol, when we talk to our politicians or when we cast our votes. After we have tried all these avenues of expression, we decide to supplement these actions with protests and civil disobedience.

Preventing this shipment of Stryker vehicles will not deprive troops of life-saving equipment because it is sent in advance of a coming brigade. The troops who will use them -- the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division -- will arrive later (still a month earlier than expected, missing final desert training).

The soldiers who see us understand that we don’t want them to die. We want the military and our politicians to know that we in Tacoma want to keep our soldiers here at home.