"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."


March 15, 2007

United for Peace of Pierce County supports the nonviolent port militarization resistance movement.

The protest against the shipment of Stryker vehicles for the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army through the Port of Tacoma that began on Mar. 3, 2007, is in the best American tradition.  Just as the young Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau opposed the U.S. war of aggression against Mexico as a perversion of American values, so protesters at the Port of Tacoma stood this month against a war so illegal, so immoral, and so disastrous that it endangers the very health of the American body politic.  United for Peace of Pierce County wholeheartedly supports those who, in the words of TJ Johnson, are "seeking to take direct action to end their community's participation" in the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq (Christian Hill, "Tacoma Protests Lead to Arrests," Olympian [Olympia, WA], Mar. 6, 2007).  Johnson is an Olympia city councilman who was one of twenty-three U.S. citizens arrested on Sun., Mar. 11, in an act of mass civil disobedience in opposition to the war in Iraq, and he is one of the leaders of the port militarization resistance movement.  Protesters' efforts did not succeed in preventing the USNS Soderman from sailing yesterday, but ten days of protests have energized the peace movement on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the war.

United for Peace of Pierce County categorically rejects the view cynically purveyed by right-wing commentators like Michelle Malkin and comforted by editorial practices of papers like the News Tribune of Tacoma, according to which protestors are "against" the troops.  The current revelations about the shameful neglect of wounded and disabled veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that blossomed into a full-fledged national scandal last week are one more proof of the hypocrisy of a "support our troops" crowd that is all too willing to send our young men and women to repeated tours of doomed, dehumanizing, and illegal military service in an utterly alien culture and land where many of them are exposed to toxic chemicals and depleted uranium, and where their presence is ardently detested by the vast majority of the Iraqis they are supposedly being sent to protect.  We would like to spare them that arduous experience, which for many will be permanently disabling or fatal.

This legitimate protest has occasioned lamentable and disturbing behavior on the part of the Tacoma Police Department.  Excessive force has been used against peaceful, nonviolent protesters presenting no threat whatsoever to public safety. The police made many unjustified and, we believe, illegal arrests.  They endangered, rather protected, public safety.  Officers of the law have been employed in what appears to be a campaign to frighten, discourage, intimidate, and harass protesters who were only exercising their legal and constitutional rights.  Heretofore peace activists in Pierce County have enjoyed good relations with the Tacoma police, and we must work to understand why our local authorities chose the line of conduct that we were dismayed to witness this week.  There must be an investigation.  Those responsible must be held to account.  What happened is not acceptable.

We also lament the decision of the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday, Mar. 6, forcibly to eject Wally Cuddeford, a Navy veteran from Olympia protesting the war who came to describe to the Council his own abuse at the hands of Tacoma police, but was silenced on the legalistic grounds that he had exceeded the two minutes allotted to him.  When he persisted in finishing a brief statement about his experience of being arrested, beaten, Tasered three times, and held in jail on absurd charges of felony assault that were dropped at once by county prosecutors at his arraignment on Tuesday, he was arrested.  The Tacoma City Council should have had the decency to suspend the rules and hear him out, as the council did for others earlier in the meeting.

We support the call by Tacoma City Councilman Bill Evans for an official investigation by the city into Cuddeford's arrest and mistreatment, and also into other troubling incidents:  the use of force against Caitlin Esworthy and Jeff Berryhill, who were arrested along with Cuddeford; the arrest of Legal Observer Karen Weill; the harrassment, intimidation, and illegal detention of Joe La Sac, a student at the University of Puget Sound, whose treatment at the hands of Tacoma police is being viewed around the world, thanks to his artful YouTube video, "Film Is NOT a Crime; the arrest of Thomas McCarthy at 11:30 p.m. on Mar. 9 at the Port of Tacoma for supposed crime of carrying a backpack with food and first aid supplies; the brutal attack by police in the early morning hours of Saturday, Mar. 10, with tear gas, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, and truncheons on a peaceful crowd singing "Give Peace a Chance"; the arrest on Sunday, Mar. 11, of eight protestors for violating an unconstitutional ban on backpacks, bags, and purses; another tear gas assault on a peaceful crowd around 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 13; and a number of other, related incidents.  These events constitute a pattern of repression.  They must be investigated, and they must come to an end.

We are committed to following the example of the late Martin Luther King Jr., who lost his life in the struggle to redeem the United States from the "giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism" that afflict this land.  In his April 1967 speech "Beyond Vietnam," King quoted a Vietnamese Buddhist leader whose words ring true today:  "It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat."

We embrace the "Port Militarization Resistance Code/Statement of Non-Violence" endorsed last month by Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, and urge other groups and individuals to do likewise:

We, the members of Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), believe that non-violent social change is a means for people to discover their own power through the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the creation of democratic structures, and the realization of justice—not mere victory.  While working in this group we commit ourselves to the following principles:

1) We seek to win over our opposition by changing their minds rather than through degradation and humiliation.

2) We are willing to make personal sacrifices in order ensure freedom and justice for all people—even our opponents.

3) We shall refrain from physical assaults, verbal harassment, and malicious sabotage.

4) We remember the need for forgiveness and humility, and always seek to understand each other’s actions, and the actions of our opposition.

5) We shall ensure that all our events and meetings are transparent, inclusive, and democratic.

United for Peace of Pierce County supports the nonviolent port militarization resistance movement at the Port of Tacoma and rededicates itself to the effort to reconnect the United States to its roots in revolution against oppression, freedom from injustice, and genuine democracy.


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."