Last Thursday, the Tacoma Weekly gave a fuller account of what happened at the Tues., Mar. 6, meeting of the Tacoma City Council than any other published to date in the mainstream media.  --  The Weekly is a free weekly paper that to some extent fills the gap created by broad zones of editorial silence maintained by Tacoma's leading paper, the McClatchy-owned News Tribune.  --  At the Mar. 6 meeting, Deputy Mayor Rick Talbert ordered the forcible removal of Wally Cuddeford (unnamed in this article) as he told of mistreatment at the hands of Tacoma police when police used excessive force in arresting him the night before.[1]  --  So far, only the Olympian (Olympia, WA), has attempted to describe the port militarization resistance movement (PMR), in a Mar. 7, 2007, article.  --  This is perhaps linked to the fact that one of the leaders of PMR is Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson, who was arrested in an act of civil disobedience on Sun., Mar. 11.  --  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has not sent a reporter; on Monday, it published a brief Associated Press account.[2]  --  The Seattle Times has not covered the protest.  --  The Olympian published a brief piece on Sunday's arrest, mentiong that all 23 arrested were charged with "criminal obstruction, a misdemeanor."[3]  --  (This is somewhat odd, since eight of the protesters were obstructing nothing at all, but rather were obstructed by police from approaching the police barricade on the grounds that they had bags and backpacks.)  --  A comment on the Olympian story asks supporters of TJ Johnson to consider attending Tuesday's Olympia City Council Meeting:  "One person among us who is personally and professionally exposed to public reaction more than most is Olympia City Councilmember TJ Johnson.  I spoke with TJ earlier today who informed me that the City is being flooded with email about his arrest at the Port of Tacoma yesterday.  The comments are running a little better than 50-50 in favor, with the orgainzed extreme right-wing well represented, expressing the usual hate-rants against TJ.  They can be expected to show up at tomorrow's City Council meeting.  TJ has worked tirelessly on the PMR campaign from the beginning and has been central to its success since PMR regroupd back in early February.  For those who don't know, TJ was arrested yesterday at the Port of Tacoma, along with 22 others, for directly challenging the use of the port in executing the illegal and immoral US occupation of Iraq.  I strongly urge everyone to attend the City Council meeting tomorrow not only to support a rare elected official who demonstrates courage and bold action directly challenging the status quo, but to take another opportunity to promote this campaign in our own voices and in large numbers.  Olympia City Council Meeting, Tuesday March 13, 2007, Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.  --  Get there by 6:30 p.m. to sign up to testify."  --  A presence from Tacoma to express appreciation for his action would be appropriate. -- The city council's web site states:&nbps; "The Olympia City Council meets on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 900 Plum Street, unless otherwise noticed. The Council Chambers doors are usually opened at 6:30 p.m.  Anyone is welcome to attend a City Council meeting, unless is it a closed meeting (Executive Session) as allowed by State law."  --  The meeting begins with a period of "Public Communications."  --  The agenda of Tuesday's meeting can be viewed here as a .pdf file....


By John Larson

Tacoma Weekly
March 8, 2007

[PHOTO CAPTION: PROTESTERS. Anti-war protesters have been active in downtown and the Tideflats this week to display their opposition to shipments of military equipment to Iraq through the Port of Tacoma.]

Opposition to the war in Iraq has led to tense moments on the Tideflats and at city hall this week, with activists arrested at both locations.

Activists have targeted Tacoma because Stryker vehicles and other equipment for the U.S. Army 4th Brigade, based at Fort Lewis, are being transported to Iraq through the Port of Tacoma.

Protesters arrived on the Tideflats on the evening of March 4, and three people were arrested.

A group of activists gathered on Pacific Avenue above Interstate 5 March 5, and on the Tideflats that evening.

On March 6, about 20 protesters gathered in front of Union Station downtown. “This is my chance to get in the way of this ongoing mess,” commented George Rodkey of Tacoma.

Charles Adler of Olympia said he was on the Tideflats the night before, and said the atmosphere shifted back and forth between calm and tense. Seeing police with batons “gave me some pause,” but he said they were not overly intimidating.

Nicki Vance is a University of Puget Sound student and member of Students for a Democratic Society. She said the local chapter has close ties to the one in Olympia, which was the scene of protests last year over shipments of military cargo through its port. She feels public pressure halted those shipments through Olympia. “I would love to see that same message spread to Tacoma,” she stated.

Vance said activists might take their concerns to the Port of Tacoma Commission. “That is one tactic we have discussed.”

Numerous activists testified at the city council meeting March 6. Brian Smith of Tacoma said he had protested on the Tideflats, and claimed police assaulted some protesters. “The city is serving the troops a death sentence,” he declared.

Tim Smith of Tacoma claimed police engaged in aggressive behavior on the Tideflats, and demanded City Manager Eric Anderson investigate the matter.

A man who said he was a military veteran and Olympia resident was arrested at the meeting. The man told the council he was on the Tideflats early on March 5 when police forced him to the ground, pushed his face into gravel, and used a Taser on him three times before taking him into custody. The man discussed the late Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, and told the council Tacoma Police were “bloodthirsty batterers.”

When the man’s allotted time was up, Councilmember Rick Talbert asked him to sum up his comments and take a seat. The man said he would continue to speak until he finished what he had to say. After the third warning, Talbert ordered police officers to remove the man from the council chambers. He was arrested on trespassing charges.

The meeting resumed after a short recess.

Thomas Cassidy said he lives in Olympia and is a military veteran who served in Kosovo and Iraq. He said police on the Tideflats “had the intent of violence in their eyes.”

Several speakers told the council that the arrest of the man at the meeting was unnecessary.

Jerry Newman of Tacoma expressed his gratitude for the police and support for the shipments. He said he has two brothers serving in the military overseas. “They need the support that moves through our ports,” he remarked.

Councilmember Bill Evans said the comments about police behavior is “the most disturbing testimony” he has heard in his seven years on the council. He asked Anderson to compile information about the protests and present it to the council.



Associated Press
March 12, 2007

TACOMA, Wash. -- Two dozen anti-war demonstrators have been arrested at the Port of Tacoma, bringing the total to 32 in a week of protests against the shipment of Army equipment for the war in Iraq.

TJ Johnson, an Olympia City Council member, was among 15 people who were arrested Sunday afternoon for deliberately crossing a barricade. Eight others were arrested after taking backpacks or bags into an area where those items were banned.

Also crossing the barricade was Wes Hamilton, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran who said he hoped his arrest would encourage others to oppose the Iraq war.

"We're standing on principle," Hamilton said.

All 23 were charged with criminal obstruction, a misdemeanor, Detective Bradley R. Graham said, adding that the backpack restriction was imposed because protesters brought chains and locks to demonstrations in previous days.

The arrests followed a script negotiated by Johnson and police Sgt. Todd Kitselman, with demonstrators crossing the barrier one by one and passively submitting to arrest.

"We want you guys to have a peaceful protest," Kitselman said.

The first backpacker to be arrested was Phan Nguyen, 32, of Olympia.

"All I have in my backpack is a U.S. Constitution," Nguyen told police.

Sixty to 100 people participated in the demonstration against the shipment of Stryker armored fighting vehicles and other gear for the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which is scheduled to leave nearby Fort Lewis for Iraq next month.

Early Sunday morning a protester was arrested after police said she drove into a restricted area despite warnings to stop.

Eight people were arrested in earlier protests last week.


Information from: The News Tribune,



By Venice Buhain

** Olympia council member among 23 detained at Tacoma port **

Olympian (Olympia, WA)
March 12, 2007

[PHOTO CAPTION: Molly Gibbs of Olympia climbs over a barricade Sunday afternoon to protest the shipment of Stryker vehicles and other military equipment from the Port of Tacoma. She was arrested on suspicion of trespassing moments later. Anti-Iraq War demonstrators gathered at the Port of Tacoma where Strykers and other military vehicles were being loaded on ships headed to the Middle East. Photo: Peter Haley]

[PHOTO CAPTION: Phan Nguyen (center) of Olympia makes a speech about constitutional rights before stepping forward and being arrested Sunday afternoon. At far right is Olympia council member TJ Johnson. Anti-Iraq War demonstrators gathered at the Port of Tacoma where Strykers and other military equipment were being loaded on ships bound for the Mideast. Photo: Peter Haley]

Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson was among 23 people arrested at a Port of Tacoma protest Sunday afternoon, police and protest groups said.

Sunday’s arrests were orderly, both Tacoma police and protesters say, with those arrested and police communicating during the arrests.

Johnson and the 22 others face charges of criminal obstruction, a misdemeanor, Tacoma Police Det. Brad Graham said Sunday.

Eight were arrested after bringing backpacks into a zone where they had been prohibited, Graham said. Police established some areas around the Port of Tacoma as no-backpack zones last week as a security measure, he said.

“The protesters were advised that they couldn’t bring their backpacks, and they indicated that they were not going to give them up,” Graham said.

Later, 15 people crossed a fence that separated the protest from the military equipment, he said.

“One by one, they did climb over the barricade,” said Linda Frank of Tacoma, who was acting as a media liaison for the Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance.

That group and the more experienced Olympia Port Militarization Resistance organized the protests of the Army’s use of the port for shipping military equipment bound for Iraq.

“It was very respectful on both sides,” she said.

Frank said the protesters who were arrested made it clear that they were performing civil disobedience in protest of the Iraq War and the prohibition on backpacks in the protest zones.

They were aware that they could be arrested, she said.

She said those crossing the fence carried copies of a “Citizen’s Injunction” that ordered a halt to shipments of military equipment through the Port of Tacoma.

Frank said the groups prepared for the civil disobedience and the arrests. The first group of eight were protesting the prohibition on backpacks in the protest area.

Johnson’s wife, Stephanie, declined comment when reached by telephone.

Several other Olympia anti-Iraq War activists were among those arrested. Molly Gibbs and Sandy Mayes were booked into Pierce County Corrections, according to a jail roster on the county Web site. A *News Tribune* photographer who witnessed the arrests confirmed that Phan Nguyen of Olympia also was arrested after making a speech and refusing to surrender a backpack.

Tacoma Police declined to identify the protesters who were arrested.

Police estimated about 100 protesters were at the Port of Tacoma on Sunday afternoon. Since the first weekend in March, anti-war activists have been protesting the Army’s use of the Port of Tacoma for the shipment of military equipment to Iraq. Shipments include vehicles and other cargo.

--Paul Sand of the News Tribune contributed to this report.