On Thursday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer devoted its first article to the port militarization resistance movement at the Port of Tacoma, calling protesters "unbowed" and quoting TJ Johnson and UFPPC's Mark Jensen. -- The article drew on the movement's media release. -- The Olympian (Olympia, WA) quoted Sandy Mayes of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, who called the movement "very successful." -- "I feel good about what we achieved, and a primary goal is to provide a model for other communities, and I think we provided a strong one," she said. -- The Seattle Times published no report. -- In its article, the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) got a number of things wrong, beginning with its headline: "Stryker Ship Sails, Protests End at Port." -- This was contradicted by Paul Sand's article, which noted that "Activists will gather at about 4 p.m. today at Thorne Road and East 11th Street in the port to mourn people who have been killed in the war." -- (For more on this event, see here.) -- The News Tribune quoted Tom McCarthy, a PMR organizer and one of the 37 who were arrested during the ten days of protests, who also judged the movement "successful." ...
PORT OF TACOMA ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS UNBOWED
By Amy Rolph
March 15, 2007
Local anti-war protesters weren't able to stop a military ship from sailing to Iraq, but they still believe that almost two weeks of demonstrations at the Port of Tacoma served a purpose.
After all, if Western Washington residents tuned into the media at all during the past week, the protesters probably managed to get their message out.
"It was definitely worth it," said Mark Jensen, who helped coordinate the demonstrations, which included at least 100 people.
Tacoma police arrested 37 people in conjunction with the protests, including TJ Johnson, an Olympia city councilman. The protesters wanted to stop or delay the shipping to Iraq of Stryker brigade military vehicles from Fort Lewis.
"I have no other choice," Johnson said in a statement. "I have done everything else I can think of as a citizen, a city councilman and as a parent. This is for my son. This is for all the children and grandchildren."
Despite the protesters' efforts to interrupt the loading process, the 950-foot USNS Soderman departed with the equipment for the Middle East on Tuesday, port spokesman Mike Wasem said.
No other Stryker brigade loadings were expected in the immediate future, he said.
But the protesters were full of plans for the immediate future.
Wednesday evening, they held a vigil at the port, and today they plan to gather as mourners in conjunction with a port commissioners' meeting, Jensen said.
Monday is the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, and many of the port protesters plan to participate in demonstrations in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia this weekend.
"Many of us believe this recent protest will energize the movement," Jensen said.
But he and others dislike the treatment they received from police during their recent activism.
Police were constantly present at the port before the ship sailed. Earlier this week, they used tear gas and non-lethal bullets to control crowds. So far, protesters' verbal complaints of excessive force haven't been looked into.
"I don't know that there have been any formal complaints made yet," said Tacoma police Detective Brad Graham.
If that changes, the allegations would be investigated, he said.
Nadine Gulit, co-founder of the local group Operation Support Our Troops, said she's glad the ship sailed. She said she hopes the next time protesters want to make a political statement, they'll demonstrate in a way that won't jeopardize the safety of soldiers overseas.
"You're not going to stop them, and you're not going to bring them home, so why are you trying to stop the equipment they need to stay alive?" she asked.
The protesters contend the war is illegal because it violates Article Six of the Constitution, which binds the nation to abide by treaties.
"Many of us believe the war is illegal, even more believe the war is immoral, and still more believe the war is a disaster," Jensen said.
During the protest, Fort Lewis' newest Stryker brigade, the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, loaded vehicles on the ship in preparation for the April departure of 4,000 soldiers for Iraq. The brigade is being sent to Iraq several months earlier than normal under President Bush's "surge" plan to escalate the war by more than 20,000 troops.
PROTESTED ARMY SHIP LEAVES PORT
By Christian Hill
Olympian (Olympia, WA)
March 15, 2007
A military ship loaded with equipment belonging to a Fort Lewis combat brigade departed from the Port of Tacoma on Wednesday.
The departure of the USNS Soderman to the Middle East followed days of protests involving anti-war activists that resulted in 37 arrests, many involving people from the Olympia area.
Twenty-three people, including Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson, were arrested Sunday on charges of criminal obstruction for crossing a barricade or bringing backpacks into the area when Tacoma police had barred them as a security measure.
Their arraignment is scheduled for today in Tacoma Municipal Court.
Activists had expected the military equipment to be loaded at the Port of Olympia, and they had to respond quickly when they learned that military convoys instead were headed to Tacoma on March 3.
“However, considering that, I think that the actions that did occur were very successful. . . . I feel good about what we achieved, and a primary goal is to provide a model for other communities, and I think we provided a strong one,” said Sandy Mayes, a co-founder of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, which organized the protests with Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance.
Mayes was among those arrested Sunday.
In May, similar protests at the Port of Olympia resulted in nearly 40 arrests.
Representatives of the law enforcement agencies that provided security were happy people were able to voice their opinions, but they were troubled by those who came solely looking to start trouble, said Detective Brad Graham, spokesman for the Tacoma Police Department.
“Certainly, we wish nobody needed to be arrested,” he said.
The Washington State Patrol and law enforcement agencies from King, Pierce, and Thurston counties secured the military equipment at a Port of Tacoma holding area and as it moved to the ship, Graham said.
The number of personnel providing security ranged from about 100 to 175, he added. The cost of providing that security is not yet known.
The ship is carrying equipment from the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which will deploy a month early as part of the White House strategy to deploy 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq.
The deployment ceremony was held Monday at Fort Lewis.
The soldiers will fly to Kuwait, and they should all have left Fort Lewis by mid-April, said Erin Benson, a Fort Lewis spokeswoman.
“It takes about one to two weeks for the entire brigade to ship out,” she said.
They will spend several weeks in Kuwait unloading and preparing equipment before entering Iraq, Benson said. The brigade will be based in Baghdad, joining another Fort Lewis-based combat brigade.
STRYKER SHIP SAILS, PROTESTS END AT PORT
By Paul Sand
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
March 15, 2007
A ship loaded with about 1,000 Army Strykers and other vehicles headed for the Iraq war left the Port of Tacoma on Wednesday, a Tacoma police spokesman said.
The 908-foot ship holding 300 Strykers and about 700 other wheeled vehicles and headed to Kuwait City sailed about 11 a.m., said police detective Brad Graham. The vehicles are for the Fort Lewis-based 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The trip will take several weeks.
Anti-war activists protested the vehicle shipment from the port for the past week and a half. Police made 37 arrests in connection with the protests since March 5. Twenty-three people were arrested Sunday afternoon in a peaceful civil disobedience event.
Graham said officers have left the area and that port operations were back to normal.
In a statement, Tom McCarthy of the Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance group said: “This time we were successful in keeping Strykers from shipping out from the Olympia port, and were able to draw a lot of national and international attention to our opposition to the escalation of this illegal and immoral war.”
Activists will gather at about 4 p.m. today at Thorne Road and East 11th Street in the port to mourn people who have been killed in the war.
Most of the protests took place on Milwaukee Way near a fenced area where the vehicles were moving in and out. Some, however, were on East 11th Street, including on Sunday afternoon when 23 people were arrested after peacefully crossing a barricade or wearing backpacks in an area where police had prohibited bags. Olympia City Councilman T.J. Johnson was one of the people arrested for crossing the barricade.
The last arrests in the protests came Tuesday when police arrested five people for refusing orders to move off railroad tracks.