Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A series of protests continued today in Olympia, Washington where activists battle on in a campaign to end the militarization of Olympia's port.

Last night a crowd of nearly 150 protesters gathered to blockade the main gate of the Port while simultaneous decentralized direct actions took place elsewhere throughout the city. Police arrested 43 people Tuesday night. Seattle Indymedia reported:
"At 9:00 pm on November 13th the continued campaign to end the militarization of Olympia's port reached a crescendo tonight when nearly 40 women contained military equipment at the Port of Olympia. The women chanted, “No force is necessary, we are non-violent, no weapons on our bodies, we are non-violent,” linked arms, and placed their bodies in the road blocking the main gate as Olympia Police moved in in full riot gear."

Shizuno Wynkoop, one of the women on the frontline said, “I went to the port tonight in solidarity with women globally who struggle to stop human rights abuses and to support soldiers by keeping them home with their families instead of sent off to war.” After the women were taken away, another blockade formed, and police used pepper spray and dragged protesters out of the streets."

Demonstrator Noah Sochet reported, 'As Strykers left the north gate nearly a hundred people rushed down Marine Drive to block them. Demonstrators ran in front of the vehicles, blockaded them and immediately police used concussion grenades and pepper bullets on the crowd.'”

Matt McVay, videographer from The Olympian newspaper, was shot directly in the face with a pepper bullet. This is the third Olympian worker to be assaulted by the police. The Olympian has yet to report on the assaults on its own workers.'

...Witnesses report dozens of instances of police brutality across Olympia throughout the past week. Peter Cooper says, “When I talk to my family who live in Texas, I try to describe what’s been happening, but there’s been so much violence against peaceful demonstrators, so many instances that are so horrible, that I can’t describe it all in one conversation on the phone.” Still, Olympia resident and community activist Anna-Marie Murano says, 'Despite the horror of the police response to our peaceful demonstrations, OlyPMR will continue resisting the use of the soldiers and resources of our community to support an unjust, immoral war.'”

According to the Olympian about a dozen people expressed their opinions at Tuesday's Olympia City Council meeting about the police response to Port of Olympia protests, and most criticized the police actions. They said the police went too far in using tactics that included pepper spray and the use of batons to move people from the street.

Ken Schwilk of Olympia said police removed protesters' goggles and sprayed them in the eyes.

"I am very disappointed; it's a tragedy what occurred. ... These are nonviolent people. They are not attackers," he said.

Sandy Mayes of Olympia characterized police behavior as "excessive in the extreme" and said she is alarmed that young people are "taking the brunt of the abuse."

Mayes, who also criticized police actions while attending an Olympia port commission meeting earlier Tuesday, added that she thinks police seem intent on oppressing dissenting opinions.

"As public opinion has grown against the occupation, the police tactics have become more aggressive," she said.

Andrew Yankey, a spokesman for Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, said today that demonstrators weren't protesting soldiers — just the equipment that he said is likely being sent back for repair before being shipped out again.

"The soldiers have made it home, and we're really glad about that," he said. "This is about the military equipment. As long as the government refuses to listen to the will of the vast majority of people who want an end to this war, it's not safe to allow the military to have its hands on this equipment because it will continue to support the war in Iraq."

Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (OlyPMR) was founded in May of 2006 when Olympia peace activists attempted to block outgoing Strykers and other military equipment in advance of the deployment of the 3rd Brigade Stryker Team from Ft. Lewis. Activists united under the banner of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, declaring a common mission to "end our community's participation in the illegal occupation of Iraq by stopping the military use of the Port of Olympia."

For updates I suggest Seattle IndyMedia.

The following is the latest report I could find from Indymedia.

50 arrested in Olympia blocking Stryker return

Protesters were still present early Wednesday morning in downtown Olympia during the multiday demonstration against the Stryker brigade. The Strykers are returning, rather than being shipped out, but there was a call to oppose any movement of supplies through Olympia streets. Concrete was poured on train tracks, a bank window was broken, and several dozen were arrested. Rubber bullets were fired and pepper spray was used.

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