University of Puget Sound student Peter Ryan was tear-gassed by police while protesting peacefully against the Iraq war on the evening of Mar. 9-10, 2007.   --  For a video of what occurred that evening at the Port of Tacoma on Mar. 9-10, 2007, which involved police responding to a peaceful group singing "Give Peace a Chance" with tear gas and rubber bullets and which has been described as a "police riot" by one observer, see here.  --  Here's another view of the action that night.  --  Peter Ryan's "crime" was to respond to this unprovoked violence by refusing to move.  --  But instead of the police being prosecuted for using needless and dangerous violence against protesters acting in response to the illegal aggression of the United States in Iraq so as to avoid their own participation in the crime of complicity under the Nuremberg Principles (Principle VI: "The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i). . . . Principle VII: Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law"), it was Peter Ryan who more than a year, on Apr. 17, 2008, was convicted by a jury Tacoma Municipal Court.  --  His crime:  "failing to disperse."  --  (It's true that Ryan was sitting in a roadway at the time of his arrest, but the roadway had been blocked by a police barricade, so he was not interfering with any vehicular traffic.)  --  After his conviction, Peter Ryan put in writing some of his impressions of his trial, and has given his permission to reproduce them here.[1]  --  A Tacoma SDS piece posted on Apr. 13 gave more information on the case.[2] ...


By Peter Ryan

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
April 17, 2008

hey friends.

so after the judge (who basically acted as a 2nd prosecutor throughout the trial) censored most of our relevant evidence (for example, we couldn't say the words or talk about "rubber bullets" or "shots" at all) . . . and had to limit the video we showed to only times when rubber bullets were not being fired, which excluded much of the relevant content of the videos . . . and after the judge cited my lawyer for contempt for doing nothing more than asking questions of the witnesses that brought out extremely relevant evidence, while he allowed (overruled an objection by my lawyer) the prosecutor to accuse me of wanting to be tear gassed and arrested so that I could sue the city in his closing statement (which is illegal "prosecutorial misconduct" and grounds for disbarment, besides the fact that there was no evidence for it and it was the first time it was brought up) . . . and accused the defense witnesses of lying . . . and after witness after witness testified that no protestor heard any dispersal order . . . and after the jury deliberated the case for less than a whopping 1 hour, i was found guilty of "failure to disperse."

so i ended up with a $500 fine or 50 hours of community service, while my lawyer ended up with a $2,200 for contempt . . . how's that for justice?

so we are on our way into beginning the appeal process, as the results of this case not only affect me but affect case law and set an example for cases against other protestors accused of the same charge. there is a high likelihood that we will win, but it'll take another year and more money (about $2000 of legal fees, if not more). so if you'd like to contribute i will set up an online account soon to which you can donate (any amount is appreciated), but please feel no pressure, I understand that there are many other injustices in the world that may be a priority for you.

donating to this cause is for those who have funds to spare to ensure that "failure to disperse" and other protest cases will be treated more fairly in the future, which will help protect all of our first amendment rights to protest peacefully without being attacked by police, which, in a country that promotes so much injustice domestically and all around the world, is very important in my opinion.

if you have questions, please let me know, and thank you for your support, whatever form it may take.

hope you are well,


--Peter Ryan is a student at the University of Puget Sound. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 2.


Tacoma SDS
April 13, 2008

Location: Tacoma Municipal Court

Monday, April 14, 2008 at 9:00am - Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 4:30pm

Tacoma County-City Building
930 Tacoma Avenue South
Tacoma, WA

Contact InfoEmail:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On March 9, 2007, Peter was part of a crowd of peaceful protestors against the occupation of Iraq, and specifically the shipment of Stryker vehicles and other weapons from Fort Lewis, through the Port of Tacoma, to Iraq to precede the troop surge.

Late that night (about 2:00 a.m. on March 10), as with other nights throughout the two-week-long protest, police opened fire with rubber bullets (considered "less-lethal" not "less than lethal") and tear gas without warning onto the group of about seventy-five peaceful protestors, many of whom, including Peter, were sitting on the ground singing "Give Peace a Chance," by John Lennon.

While choking for breath in a cloud of tear gas, Peter was pushed onto the ground by police, bashing his head into the concrete, and arrested. He was searched and handcuffed without any advisory of his rights, and without any medical attention.

After a night in jail, his charges had been changed from "Trespassing" (the protest was on public property), to "Obstruction," to Failure to Disperse" (which is the current charge) in less than 24 hours. For the past year, Peter, along with dozens of other peaceful protestors who were illegally arrested throughout the two weeks, has had to pay hundreds of dollars of legal fees and attend numerous court hearings, both for himself and as a witness for others. Now his trial is finally here, over a year later.

Please come out to the court to support Peter in his trial. Support in the courtroom holds the court more accountable. Even just a half-hour helps. This case goes beyond just Peter. This is about defending our First Amendment rights to peacefully protest the decisions of the government. Peter was basically arrested for opposing the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which is illegal and immoral, no matter how you feel about the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Thank you for your support!