The professionalism of the Olympian, the McClatchy-owned daily newspaper of Olympia, the capital of Washington State, is not holding up well under pressure from events stemming from growing Port Militarization Resistance, an antiwar movement that has engaged in direct action that aims to deny use of civilian ports for an illegal war of aggression to the U.S. military under the Nuremberg Principles.  --  Reacting to persistent reports that the paper failed to report police violence directed at its own reporters, executive editor Vickie Kilgore published a curious "news" piece on Thursday purporting to relate "what happened and what did not happen."[1]  --  Since Ms. Kilgore was not at the scene, it is not clear why she has nominated herself to adjudicate this question.  --  Nor is it clear why, in a piece posted as "news," she chooses to conclude with veiled personal attacks:  "The young demonstrators surrounding and taunting him were being egged on by adults, men in positions of influence in this community. They should have behaved more responsibly."  --  Her tendentious piece begins:  "Let me make something perfectly clear:  The Olympian's newsroom staff did not get attacked by police when they were at the scene covering the recent port protests."  --  But this is directly contradicted by her own reporter, Jeremy Pawloski, in a sentence that she quotes:  "One officer in riot gear took a swing at me Saturday, but he missed."  --  The Olympian's executive editor ignores the outrageousness of using chemical weapons on nonviolent protesters, and instead claims that "angry" protesters of "alarming" "hostility" "cornered" photographer Tony Overman and "threatened" him, causing him to "feel endangered" when they "yelled at" him "with growing intensity."  --  For some reason, Tony Overman, who is said by Kilgore to be "angry," does not tell his story himself, though two other journalists are quoted at some length (in a way that fails to question any of the police violence documented at the public meeting in Olympia on Sun., Nov. 11).  --  Some of the vigorous reactions to Kilgore's article from PMR protesters and their supporters are posted below.[2,3,4,5,6,7] ...

1.

AT THE PORT: WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT DID NOT HAPPEN
By Vickie Kilgore, executive editor of the Olympian

Olympian (Olympia, WA)
November 15, 2007

http://www.theolympian.com/news/story/272105.html

Let me make something perfectly clear: The Olympian's newsroom staff did not get attacked by police when they were at the scene covering the recent port protests.

However, photographer Tony Overman was threatened by protesters and felt endangered to the point of calling 9-1-1 for assistance.

There is much misinformation on this topic in community blogs and conversation.

Journalists covering breaking news often put themselves at risk. Being on the frontlines to report news as it happens is essential. Most of us love that adrenaline rush of the big story happening before our eyes. But in volatile situations such as the protests of the past week, our journalists are exposed to the same risks as everyone else when tension escalates.

And an out-of-control crowd -- as the local demonstrators proved to be several times -- is a scary thing.

Tony is experienced in shooting dangerous scenes. He spent several weeks in Iraq last year covering our troops.

But last week Tony was cornered against a chain-link fence by protesters angry at being photographed. One grabbed at his lens. Tony said the hostility was alarming, and he felt threatened as they yelled at him with growing intensity. He reached for his cell phone, punched 9-1-1 and explained the situation, officers arrived and the demonstrators pinning him to the fence backed off.

OTHER INCIDENTS

Two other staff members also felt the consequences of being in the middle of the action.

Tuesday night The Olympian's videographer, Matt McVay, was struck in the face by a pepper ball fired by law enforcement officers.

As Matt describes it:

"The protesters had just thrown Dumpsters and garbage bins into the road at Fourth and Plum. Soon after, police in riot gear showed up to push protesters back. I had thought I was in a safe area and was far enough back that I would not be caught in crossfire. One protester ran across the street in front of me, and that is when I first heard the shot, then felt it hit my cheek.

"After getting over the initial sting, I ran over to the side with the other photographers to continue getting footage. I thought at first it was a rubber bullet, since I was not experiencing any effects of the pepper spray, but later I saw that all of the chemicals had spread to the side of my head and had caked my ear. The effects didn't burn until I was trying to wash it out. From what I can tell, the pepper-spray pellet hit my cheek as I was turning my head, causing it to glance my cheek and spray the chemicals away from me. Had it hit any other way, I am sure I would be in worse shape."

POLICE REPORTER

After last Saturday's protest scene, rumors were flying that a reporter had been struck by a police officer. That wasn't the case.

Jeremy Pawloski, our criminal justice reporter, said: "One officer in riot gear took a swing at me Saturday, but he missed. Later, the officer came over and apologized, telling me he didn't know I was a reporter. I was to the side of the officers, trying to get a better vantage point, and he may have thought I was a protester trying to flank him. I was not assaulted."

Matt, Jeremy, Diane Huber, Steve Herppich, Steve Bloom, Toni Bailey and Christian Hill, who also were on the scene to report the activities, took their risks in stride. Matt was back at work Wednesday with some swelling, redness and a scraped face remaining from the pepper spray.

Tony, who is not easily intimidated, was angry. You don't mess with a photographer's equipment. But it was more than that. The young demonstrators surrounding and taunting him were being egged on by adults, men in positions of influence in this community. They should have behaved more responsibly.

--Vickie Kilgore is executive editor of the Olympian and can be reached at 360-754-4223 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2.

[From "Rocky"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

 

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

 

Lies and misrepresentation. I've been there all week. We were very cordial and friendly with Olympian reporters -- especially Jeremy. I don't know a single person who would attack a photographer, and if it was the counter-protesters who did this, you'd better set the record straight. Yes YOU, Olympian. You have a responsibility to this community to do so.

As for "violence," what violence? The tear gas, rubber bullets, and billy clubs used by the cops? How does throwing a few dumpsters in the streets (btw they picked up all the trash afterwards . . . THE PROTESTERS DID out of respect for the community) compare to this even remotely? How does this compare to the horrific violence experienced daily by the people of Iraq?

How does being a few minutes late for work or a broken window compare to being raped in a refugee camp? To having your home invaded by U.S. soldiers for no reason? To the horrific onslaught of violence we have unleashed upon the people of Iraq? How does it compare to having your arms blown off? To PTSD? To inadequate medical care? To command rape? To stop-loss?

Have we all forgotten why most of us oppose the war in the first place? This is slaughter, trauma, rape, and unholy terror unleashed against a sovereign nation -- against Iraq and against our own soldiers. Wake up, people. It was established at Nuremberg that civilians who don't stand up to the illegal and unjust actions of their governments are RESPONSIBLE. And sitting around saying "the war is bad" does NOT count.

We aren't hoodlums or criminals. We are workers, students, and families. We come from all economic classes. We want to see a just world, and we're actually DOING something to make it happen. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And we take them . . . up to and including non-violent civil disobedience. A few rock-throwers do not represent us. As a group we are doing the best we can to stop the war.

And don't forget what non-violent civil disobedience is. During the Vietnam war movement, during the civil rights movement, activists were labeled as "violent," "dangerous," and "criminal." They were just trying to create a better world, and in many ways they did. Don't forget where many of the privileges you enjoy come from. Stop whining and join us at the port. We will welcome you with open arms.

There is no justification for violently attacking nonviolent protesters. There is no justification for pepper spraying people for any reason except self-defense. You've seen the videos on the Olympian website of Saturday morning. You saw the people who stood in front of the chain link fence and without raising an arm against the police faced wave after wave of pepper-spray. You saw them beaten and pushed down and dragged. You saw their hands remain at their sides.

You saw a line of people with arms chained together shot without warning with pepper balls. How could these people be a threat to the police? Their arms were chained together! A person cannot be a threat if she has physically constrained herself. Once again, totally unjustified use of chemical agents against non-violent people. These people were no threat to the police.

I'm really disappointed with the Olympian for their dishonest reporting, with their skewing of the truth, with their attempts to slander anti-war protesters and with the promotion of vigilantism against us on their site. I'm especially disappointed with Jeremy, who we were always polite to, who we spoke to and shared information with, and who contributed to this article without mentioning that a photographer was pepper-sprayed in his presence. We all saw it happen.

3.

[By "Billy King"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

< http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

When the Police arrived on Saturday morning at the Port, it was clear that they had no intention of arresting the demonstrators. Arrests are standard practice in civil disobedience actions. It would have been the appropriate course of action, requiring a minimum of force. The Police merely had to tell them that if they did not move, they would be arrested. The only decision at that point would have been whether the demonstrators would have walked or been carried to a waiting police van.

However, the Police chose to use pepper spray at close range at the main gate. I am sure the police photographer has similar photos to those taken by observers.

Questions: Who made the decision not to arrest the peaceful demonstrators? What did the Chief of Police, the City Manager, the Mayor, and the City Council know about this plan and when did they know it?

Who approved that decision?

Is it City policy to pepper-spray citizens who are not resisting arrest? Is it City policy to pepper-spray citizens who pose no threat to the safety of the Police or the community? If it is not City policy, what is the process for disciplining these officers and when will that take place?

Was the officer doing the close spraying following Department SOPs? If not, who authorized such close use of pepper spray and repeated use of pepper spray? Who will investigate and how will that officer be disciplined?

4.

[From "televiseus"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

Wow, quite the verbal gymnastics employed in this piece in order to condone indiscriminate police violence. If the police use excessive force on non-violent protesters, reporters, or whomever, that constitutes an attack. The videographer was shot in the face by police, but that was some how not the fault of police? Wow, so the O thinks we should hold protesters accountable, but not police? How dishonest and irresponsible, but that's editors for you. After all it took them till this July to figure out the war was crap.

"An out of control crowd is a scary thing." Were the crowds "out of control" before they were pepper-sprayed and shot at?

It's wrong when the Olympian editorial staff chooses to minimize the attacks on its employees, to provide cover for police brutality. The truth will come to light.

5.

[From "medic"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

What this article neglects to mention is that it was the PROTESTERS, not the police or the medics, who provided care for the reporters after they were attacked by the police. As a street medic, I remember distinctly irrigating the eyes of one photographer on the scene Saturday morning who was suffering the effects of pepper spray, treating him and giving him advice for after-care. He seemed grateful enough at the time to receive help while the paramedics stood by and did noting. I would appreciate it if some of that gratitude were expressed in the news coverage as well, instead of being conveniently left out. To misrepresent the events is one thing; to take advantage of the kindness of strangers and then to dismiss them all as violent youth is quite another.

For the record, if the photographer in question should see this, I'm the medic with the red dreadlocks and the medic vest, and despite the slander here I hope that you've recovered from the effects of the pepper spray. As a street medic who is sworn to do no harm and to treat everyone without discrimination, I will treat you and anyone else again even if you choose to disregard it and slander me. Keep hydrating at the moment to flush all of the chemicals out of your system; pepper spray is nasty stuff, banned by international treaty in warfare.

6.

[From "Puzzled"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

 

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

 

What a load of crap. The police assault the Olympian staff, and this is your spin on it? What a joke. This paper is not unbiased. Clearly, quite the opposite. I talked to one of your staffers, and it didn't go down the way you just described. This paper is a bunch of lies.

And check it out... you're inciting violence yourself, Olympian! Check out some of these responses... they're ready to teach the protesters a lesson. What a load of hypocritical lies. What a joke of a paper. This town deserves better.

7.

[From "ANGRY AT THE O"]

Olympian web site
November 15, 2007

 

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/theolympian/272105/

 

I think the experience of the Olympian employees shows that you don't have to be breaking the law in order to be at risk of injury from the OPD. On Tuesday morning, when no police were present, demonstrators peacefully, but unlawfully, sat in the street and prevented military vehicles from exiting the port. No one was hurt. Strange how the presence of anti-war protesters didn't cause any injuries. Later that night, when the cops arrived, lots of people were hurt, as the cops used force to ensure that the military and the port could go about business as usual. Vicki Kilgore tries but fails to blame the demonstrators for the violence against the Olympian reporters and photographers. It's pretty obvious what the Olympian's biases are -- and the paper seems to be doing it's best to rile up the pro-war types, many of whom have been physically threatening the anti-war demonstrators recently at the Port. I guess THUGS are happy with the Olympian.