SHIPMENTS BLOCKED AT PORT AMID LACK OF POLICE MANPOWER
By Jeremy Pawlowski
Olympian (Olympia, WA)
November 9, 2007
[PHOTO CAPTION: Protesters block a military shipment from exiting the Port of Olympia Friday Nov. 9, 2007. No further convoys were planned for the evening because police didn't have the resources at the port entrance to deal with protesters.]
OLYMPIA -- Protesters halted shipments of some military equipment from the Port of Olympia to Fort Lewis on Friday, the result of the Olympia Police Department’s lack of available manpower to move the 40 or so people who blocked the path of two trucks.
The protesters declared victory after port activity ended Friday night with the unsuccessful attempt to drive out two trucks, one carrying a Stryker vehicle and the other carrying two cargo containers.
“We’re a little disappointed that we didn’t get some police support, but we understand that with the resources they expended the other night, they had problems pulling all the necessary officers together,” Port of Olympia Commission President Paul Telford said. “But they did a great job the other night.”
He also noted that by the time the protesters stopped the two trucks from leaving about 4 p.m., the day’s operations at the port were almost complete anyway.
Two nights earlier, on Wednesday, police clashed with protesters, moving groups and arresting two people who were attempting to block convoys from the port. The protests were organized by Olympia Port Militarization Resistance in opposition to the use of the port for what members say is an illegal, immoral war in Iraq. There were no convoys Thursday.
The problems the protesters are causing at the port “aren’t winning them any friends,” Telford said Friday. Added port spokeswoman Patti Grant, relaying a comment by port Executive Director Ed Galligan, “it’s unfortunate that the protests can’t be peaceful and non-obstructionist.”
For most of the day Friday, trucks were able to leave unimpeded. Friday’s standoff started after 3 p.m.
Olympia Police Commander Tor Bjornstad acknowledged the department’s difficulty in pulling together the resources needed to remove protesters who stood or sat in the path of the trucks.
“We understand that the port and the military are disappointed about this evening,” he said.
Bjornstad added that police didn’t anticipate protesters blocking trucks Friday afternoon. Police also didn’t anticipate that small children would be among them, he said.
Two grade-school-aged boys and a toddler were among the people in the path of the trucks Friday, a development that Bjornstad said was “quite disturbing” and “quite appalling, in my opinion.” Police want to ensure the safety of the protesters, should they have to be removed, and police were not prepared for safely removing children Friday, he said.
“We’re going to have to figure out how to address that issue,” Bjornstad said.
Protester Anna-Marie Murano said she does not think the presence of the children posed any problems.
“I grew up in a family where I went with my mother to demonstrate against the use of nuclear weapons,” she said. “War is what kills children, not bringing them to anti-war demonstrations.”
--For more information and photos, see Saturday's Olympian.
PMR OLYMPIA NOVEMBER 2007
By Robert Whitlock
November 9, 2007
I will add more descriptions, more photos, and possibly update some of these photos with higher resolution versions in the near future.
I will also work on telling the stories, not only behind some of these photos, but behind the PMR movement and the direct action to blockade the passage of military cargoes through the Port of Olympia, Washington.
Please post links to this set elsewhere, and feel free to use the photos for noncommercial purposes!
CONTINUING PROTESTS COST CITY
By Jeremy Pawloski
** Police working overtime at Port of Olympia **
Olympian (Olympia, WA) November 9, 2007
OLYMPIA -- The Olympia Police Department's response to protests Tuesday and Wednesday in opposition to the unloading of military cargo used in Iraq has cost the city about $10,000, police said.
Olympia Police Commander Tor Bjornstad cautioned that the figure is an estimate. It covers what it cost the department, in manpower and equipment, to respond to protests by Olympia Port Militarization Resistance at the Port of Olympia, he said.
OlyPMR's protests were meant to draw attention to and halt the military convoys from the Port of Olympia to Fort Lewis, members said.
"The lion's share" of the cost was incurred Wednesday night, Bjornstad said. As the rest of the military equipment that was unloaded by the USNS Brittin, which was docked at the port Monday through Thursday, is returned to Fort Lewis in the days to come, "that figure is certainly going to grow," Bjornstad said.
Wednesday night, the protests took a confrontational turn when about 100 demonstrators sat and stood in front of the convoys as they returned equipment used by the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) to Fort Lewis.
Protesters complained of excessive police force used to remove them from the road as they tried to block a convoy, pointing to bruises and, in one case, a split lip, some of them suffered when police struck them with batons.
On Thursday, Bjornstad said that blocking vehicles on a public roadway is illegal, and anyone doing so is subject to arrest.
"Civil disobedience is not a right; it's a decision," Bjornstad said. "The consequence is, you should understand that you're breaking the law and you're subject to arrest. All we're trying to do is keep people out of the streets so the convoys can move by safely."
Thursday night, protesters gathered again at the entrance of the Port of Olympia, but as of 11:15 p.m., no convoys were leaving the port.
"There's nothing coming or going," Olympia Police Sgt. Ken Carlson said earlier in the evening.
Protesters gathered in the cold Thursday night said they'd succeeded in raising awareness about the use of the port for a war they say is immoral and illegal.