Twenty-two persons were arrested Tuesday night at the Port of Olympia when "[p]rotesters pulled down the port's front gate, then sat down with linked arms, blocking access," AP's Tracy Vedder reported Wednesday.[1]  --  Demonstrators have been protesting the use of the Port for what they believe is the shipment of matériel for an illegal war.  --  The supplies now being loaded on the Pomeroy:  Stryker vehicles and other equipment bound for Iraq, for use by the 4,000-strong 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (the "Arrowheads"), which is to return to Mosul in northern Iraq in about four weeks.  --  The Olympian (Olympia, WA) posted 33 photographs as stills and slide shows of the Port of Olympia protests as well as several minutes of video.  --  On Wednesday, the Olympian published the names of 17 individuals arrested for second-degree criminial trespassing, and 3 arrested for "rioting, which is defined as three or more people banded together to commit a crime," and one man was "[a]rrested for resisting arrest."[2]  --  (Four of those named were also arrested in last week's protests in Olympia: Brendan Dunn, Nicole Miller, Jeffery Berryhill, and Joseph Keesler.)  --  In its principal article on Tuesday night's arrests, the Olympian reported that "Police used pepper spray several times on the 100 or so activists and advanced into the crowd later in the evening, trying to disperse it.  --  Olympia City Councilman T.J. Johnson was among those shoved by state troopers trying to clear the area. In response, he stood face-to-face in front of the advancing officers until they fired several pepper-spray pellets to clear the area."[3]  --  Johnson, who like the protestors opposes the war in Iraq, placed some of the blame for the escalation of the situation on "sheriff's deputies, who are under contract to provide riot control at the Port of Olympia."  --  "[Johnson] said he thinks deputies have been needlessly more aggressive, a tactic he disagrees with and one that he complained about to county commissioners, he said."  --  A story in the Olympian on Tuesday reported that the Pomeroy, the navy ship destined to carry the military supplies, arrived in Olympia "about 7:30 p.m. Monday," May 29.[4]  --  Kathrine Tam quoted Nikki Miller (who can be seen in this photo), who would be arrested the next day:  "My personal life is nonexistent right now, but it’s all worth it.  I oppose the war because it’s illegal.  We oppose the militarization of our port to send weapons to Iraq.  We don’t want our community to be complicit in crimes against humanity.”  --  According to AP's Rachel La Corte, the 950-foot Pomeroy, what the navy calls a "Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off Ship" and part of the Military Sealift Command, is "the largest ship ever to dock in Olympia."[5] ...


By Tracy Vedder

Associated Press
May 31, 2006

OLYMPIA -- A protest became a melee on Olympia's waterfront Tuesday as sheriff's deputies arrested 22 people who stormed the port's gate. And war protesters were back on the line Wednesday night -- as are the deputies.

The protesters hope to disrupt shipments of war supplies heading to Iraq.

For more than a week, the two sides have held their ground on Olympia's waterfront. The military transport ship Pomeroy continues to load cargo bound for Iraq, including Stryker vehicles and other military supplies for the Stryker Brigade from Ft. Lewis. Its escort of Coast Guard boats is always present.

On the other side, the protesters with their anti-war slogans and signs, keep constant vigil.

All week, there were jolts of confrontation. But Tuesday night it turned ugly. Protesters pulled down the port's front gate, then sat down with linked arms, blocking access.

Police and protesters have different versions of what happened next. Protester Jeff Berryhill was one of the first arrested, he describes it this way: "I walked in, I let the cops know this is going to be peaceful we have no intention of doing anything of vandalizing anything of trying to be confrontational."

But Chief Criminal Deputy Dan Kimball with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office says others were threatening his officers: "They began to throw objects at the officers, including about a half full plastic pop bottle, and the last straw was a fairly large rock."

The end result was deputies arresting 22 protesters. Some believe the violence clouds the issue.

"I mean, the real issue here is the occupation of Iraq," says Olympia Councilman T.J. Johnson, "and the fact that our community is now directly connected to what is going over there."

Port staff aren't taking any chances this time around. They moved a heavy cargo container across the gate, and it won't be easy to get around.

What does the rest of Olympia think? Opinions are mixed. We overheard one woman tell another she wouldn't be voting for any councilmember who supported the protesters. Others were sorry they missed the action.

But World War II vet Leonard Nord thinks no matter what your opinion about the war in Iraq, to try and disrupt supplies the soldiers need is a disgrace.

"And I resent the use of public facilities for denying our troops the right to defend themselves, I resent that."

And it's not over. As long as the Pomeroy is in port, protesters plan to camp out here. The Pomeroy could leave port as early as Wednesday evening.

The equipment it carries is in support of the Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade, which is returning to Iraq for its second tour of duty there.



Olympian (Olympia, WA)
May 31, 2006

Tuesday’s anti-war protests at the Port of Olympia resulted in 22 arrests for a violations such as criminal trespassing, rioting and resisting arrest, according to jail records.

Arrested for second-degree criminal trespassing: Margaret Belknap, 18; Jeffery Berryhill, 21, Nicholas P. Bland, 26; Daniel J. Bolduc, 21; Walter R. Cuddeford, 27; Brendan M. Dunn, 21; Kathryn M. Dunn, 19; Samuel F. Green, 19; Benjamin Groves, 20; Caleb E. Hollatz, 20; Nicole M. Miller, 24; Phan Nguyen, 31; Luke E. Noble, 22; Molly R. Porter, 21; Andrew B. Yankey, 19; Michael W. Yates, 23; all of Olympia; and Rachel R. Graham, 22, of Seattle.

Arrested for rioting, which is defined as three or more people banded together to commit a crime: Joseph D. Keesler, 22; Lilia P. Lassiter, 22; and Matthew Slobodkin, 18, of Olympia.

Arrested for resisting arrest: Jacob T. Erwin, 21, of Olympia.

One unnamed minor also was among those arrested.

Thurston County sheriff’s Capt. Brad Watkins said he hopes any protests tonight go more peacefully.

“We want them to use their constitutional rights to protest peacefully. The key word is peaceful. If you break the law, you’re no longer peaceful,” he said.



By Scott Gutierrez

** 22 arrests made in demonstrations against military cargo ship **

Olympian (Olympia, WA)
May 31, 2006

OLYMPIA -- Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday in one of the most volatile confrontations yet between anti-war activists and police officers guarding a military cargo ship docked at the Port of Olympia.

The confrontations resulted in the most arrests in a single day since the demonstrations began a week ago against the Iraq-bound military shipments leaving from the port. Police used pepper spray several times on the 100 or so activists and advanced into the crowd later in the evening, trying to disperse it.

Olympia City Councilman T.J. Johnson was among those shoved by state troopers trying to clear the area. In response, he stood face-to-face in front of the advancing officers until they fired several pepper-spray pellets to clear the area.

All of those arrested were taken to the Thurston County Jail on suspicion of criminal trespassing. No one was seriously injured, Thurston County sheriff's Capt. Brad Watkins said.

Most of the arrests were made shortly after the protest started about 5 p.m. at the main entry gate on Marine Drive. Activists tore down the chain-link gate and closed in, squaring off with a line of sheriff's deputies in riot gear and helmets with face shields.

Activists then began lying on the ground and linking arms on the Port of Olympia side of the entrance.

One by one, deputies dragged them off and handcuffed them as activists yelled: "Let them go, let them go."

Early on, the first bursts of pepper spray were directed at one protester resisting arrest, Watkins said. But several people were affected. They ran back behind the front line and lay on the ground while friends flushed out their eyes with water.

The protests started last week when Army Stryker vehicles and equipment bound for Iraq started funneling through downtown streets to be unloaded at the port. Sixteen protesters were arrested last week for blocking traffic and disobeying police commands.

The demonstratons started anew late Monday when the United States Naval Ship Pomeroy pulled into port to pick up the cargo, and the protests continued Tuesday. Activists argue that the Iraq war is illegal and that by aiding the military, the Port of Olympia is complicit in an immoral war.

"It's my first time being down here, and it's for a good cause. It's an issue that needs to be taken care of," said Tom Hargreaves, a 19-year-old tool salesman from Tumwater who said his father is in the National Guard.

The demonstration cooled down at times, including one 30-minute span when several people gathered around Professor Steve Niva of The Evergreen State College as he led a teach-in about where Strykers were being deployed in Iraq.

Officers from Olympia, Tumwater, and the State Patrol were called in to back up deputies, who were flanked by private security guards and U.S. Coast Guard security. About 50 officers were on hand and, at one lull in the protest, almost matched up with activists one-to-one.

About 8 p.m., the sheriff's office started ordering the crowd to disperse and warned that officers would arrest stragglers and use pepper spray. The crowd barely budged when a phalanx of deputies, police officers, and state troopers emerged from behind the gate.

Gene Otto and his wife, Judi Mendoza, who own Otto's and the San Francisco Street Bakery, saw the gathering as they drove by and stopped to see what was happening. They had been there for 30 minutes, standing along the sidelines, when state troopers converged and shoved them hard with batons. Neither was demonstrating or standing in the officers' way, although they said they supported the cause.

"I was pretty surprised to be shoved with a baton. That's the first time that's happened to me," Otto said.

"There was no reason that this had to escalate," he said.

The air stank from chemicals and the onions and vinegar that protesters used to counteract the pepper spray's effects. Several protesters hacked incessantly while others vomited in the street. Port officials blocked the hole in the fence with a large cargo container.

Councilman Johnson and Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ware also were in attendance. After seeing Otto and his wife get pushed, Johnson jumped into the fray, standing directly in front of the officers to protest their advance. By then, the demonstration was losing its focus. As many people were taunting officers as were shouting anti-war slogans.

Johnson said things escalated in part because local activists aren't as familiar with deputies as they are with Olympia police officers, and vice versa. He also said he thinks deputies have been needlessly more aggressive, a tactic he disagrees with and one that he complained about to county commissioners, he said.

He also said there was "plenty of blame to go around" for what happened Tuesday, but he understands protesters' frustrations.

"They're thinking of everything they can to stop this war, and it still continues, even through our downtown," he said.

He later negotiated an agreement with police and protesters that allowed them to continue from a certain distance away in exchange for officers' backtracking behind the fence.

Many activists still were stinging from Monday night, where sheriff's deputies, who are under contract to provide riot control at the Port of Olympia, doused them with pepper spray as they shook the perimeter fence. Many protesters and observers, including Johnson, said protesters were not given ample warning that officers planned to spray them with the eye- and throat-irritating chemical.

Sheriff's officials, however, said they warned activists several times through a megaphone.

"They can't say they were never warned," Watkins said.



By Kathrine Tam

** Protesters, police face off after ship arrives for Iraq cargo **

Olympian (Olympia, WA)
May 30, 2006

OLYMPIA -- Law enforcement officials armed with pepper spray and dressed in riot gear guarded the gate at the Port of Olympia Monday night, where about 150 activists gathered to protest a military ship that arrived to take equipment to Iraq.

Protesters chanted “Out of Olympia, Out of Iraq” as they rocked the chain-link gate so hard that it looked like it might give way. At least three people tried to use wooden boards to pry the gate open.

Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies used a loudspeaker to warn the group to back off repeatedly before they deployed pepper spray at least four times in a one-hour period around 9:30 p.m. Dozens of people at the port plaza crouched over, dousing each other’s eyes with bottles of water and offering slices of onion to ease burning in the throat.

“It burned. I couldn’t open my eyes for 20 minutes,” said Rachel Graham, as she rubbed cold watermelon on her face. “My face is burning. I dunked my face in water and in Puget Sound.”

There were no arrests as of 11:30 p.m., said Capt. Brad Watkins of the Sheriff’s Office.

Paramedics were dispatched to the port to treat some of the protesters.

As word spread that deputies dressed in riot gear were coming, several protesters tried to block an entrance into the port plaza with a row of dumpsters and recycling bins. The deputies moved the items aside and took positions in front of the gate.

The confrontation calmed down after a half-hour standoff, and by 11:30 p.m., most of the protesters and police had dispersed. About 20 protesters remained for a quiet vigil. Port officials reinforced the gate by putting a 50-ton piece of equipment up against it.

Watkins said deputies used the pepper spray after repeated warnings to back away.

“The majority were very peaceful, nonviolent, just exercising their constitutional rights,” he said. “There was a group that was trying to damage port property. We asked them several times to stop, we warned them that if they did not stop, we would deploy pepper spray.”

Activists had been waiting for the military ship since they learned more than a week ago that equipment bound for Iraq would be loaded at the port. Military vehicles and containers are being sent to the war prior to the yearlong deployment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis next month.

Convoys of Stryker vehicles and other equipment were routed through downtown last week, where protesters tried to stop them from reaching the port. Police made 16 arrests for interference over three days last week.

The military ship pulled into the port at about 7:30 p.m. Monday. U.S. Coast Guard vessels with large guns secured the waterway. Activists lined the port plaza and the floating boat dock that juts into Budd Inlet, waving signs that read “No Iraq War” and “U.S. Troops are worth more than $3.25 a gallon.” One protester shouted “Get out of our waters” from a bullhorn.

A number of activists said they had rearranged their work schedules or skipped school last week to protest the use of the port for military shipments. Caleb Hollatz missed three days of class at The Evergreen State College and said he probably would lose credits. Nikki Miller, who also missed class at Evergreen, said she wasn’t sure what would happen.

“My personal life is nonexistent right now, but it’s all worth it,” Miller said. “I oppose the war because it’s illegal. We oppose the militarization of our port to send weapons to Iraq. We don’t want our community to be complicit in crimes against humanity.”

Several acknowledged there was little they could do to halt the shipments now that the cargo was at the port and the military ship was here, but they said they were here to make it known that the activity isn’t welcome.

“I think Olympia can be an example for other community,” said Sandy Mayes of Olympia. “If multiple communities begin to emulate these kinds of actions, it might gum up the gears a little bit.”

“The message we’re trying to send is the Olympia community disagrees with this and we’re being ignored. We’re trying to say this is not right,” said Hollatz, who held a sign reading “You Are Entering the Peace Port of Olympia; No Weapons Please.”

Public sentiment was not unanimous. Several people who were strolling along Percival Landing and came upon the demonstration said they disagreed. A family of six stopped to applaud and wave at the ship.

“We should support our troops,” said Valerie Smith, whose friend is in Iraq. “They do remarkable things. They’re in Iraq and they come to the U.S. and see this sort of stuff, what does that tell them?”



By Rachel La Corte

Associated Press
May 31, 2006

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A ship carrying military gear bound for Iraq pulled away from this Puget Sound port Wednesday evening after a week of protests in which more than three dozen people were arrested.

At least 100 protesters chanted "Stop that boat!" as the 950-foot cargo ship pulled away from a dock at the Port of Olympia.

The demonstrators also staged a brief "die-in" -- lying on the ground to illustrate their opposition to the war in Iraq. There were no immediate arrests, as the protesters confined themselves to yelling at law enforcement personnel on hand.

No protest boats were evident on the water, but armed Coast Guard vessels were standing by to intercept any boats that wandered into the area.

Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday, when police pepper-sprayed a handful of protesters who pulled down a port fence.

Activists began protesting at the port more than a week ago after learning that Stryker vehicles and other Army gear from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, a 4,000-soldier unit stationed at Fort Lewis, were being shipped to Iraq.

The USNS Pomeroy, the largest ship ever to dock in Olympia, arrived Monday night.

Dan Kimball, Thurston County sheriff's chief criminal deputy, said no one was seriously injured in the demonstration Tuesday night. Twenty people were arrested for trespassing after they tore down a gate at the port entrance and laid down; two others were arrested for failing to disperse and grabbing officers.

Olympia City Councilman T.J. Johnson said Wednesday he was shoved by state troopers trying to clear the area the night before. He said people were dispersing, but that pepper spray was shot off anyway.

He said county sheriff's deputies "chose to escalate the situation."

Authorities used pepper spray several times, including once when some in the crowd started hurling bottles and rocks at the approximately 70 law enforcement officers on scene, Kimball said.

"The actions that we took were very limited in force," Kimball said. "If they didn't start throwing things, we would have stood there until they went home."

Those arrested were released Tuesday night, but will have to go to court and will likely face fines, Kimball said.

"The majority of Americans know the war is wrong," said protester Drew Hendricks. "They're waiting for someone to act, and we're acting."

No one was arrested Monday night, but police in riot gear fired pepper spray as about 150 war protesters tried to enter a port area.

Sixteen people were arrested in three days last week, mostly for pedestrian interference, during protests against convoys through the downtown area to the port from the sprawling military post between Olympia and Tacoma.