Monday, February 25, 2008


As reported by the Northwest Hip Hop Congress on the night of February 14th, 2008 at The Evergreen State College, the Olympia chapter of The Hip Hop Congress, with the support of over 40 student and community organizations, put on the most successful student-organized hip hop event in the history of Student Activities at The Evergreen State College. The event, which took place in the largest capacity space on campus, was the premier event for the Hip Hop Congress since the Evergreen chapter was formed in the spring of 2007. Following the concert by Dead Prez, violence broke out between various responding police agencies and event participants. One police vehicle was overturned and destroyed.

The police are obviously pissed about the whole thing. Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball said, “People are going to come knocking, and people are going to jail, sooner rather than later.”

Police say the incident started when an Evergreen police officer handcuffed a man after a fight between two audience members and security volunteers at a concert featuring hip-hop group Dead Prez.

That is not exactly how everyone sees it (check out statement below which was released last Friday by the local SDS chapter).

According to the Tacoma News Tribune witnesses have said that several concertgoers surrounded the Evergreen patrol car, chanting “Let him go!” The clash escalated as audience members saw the incident as they left the building and police arrived.

The Evergreen State College will pay for the damaged police vehicle.

Of course this is the internet age so a pair of videos posted on YouTube by the Evergreen State College student union details the action.

It is of some importance to note as did some of the local media that relations between police and young people in the area are none to great since November's war protests at the Port of Olympia.
During those demonstrations, Olympia police in riot gear used pepper spray and batons to remove protesters who were blocking the movement of military equipment returning from Iraq to Fort Lewis.

"I think after the port, we showed signs of strain in the relationship between students and campus police," said Art Costantino, Evergreen's vice president for student affairs.

The Olympian notes Olympia police made 61 arrests during the port protests Nov. 8-15. Evergreen President Les Purce acknowledged in a column he wrote for The Olympian in November that many of the protesters were from his school.

Evergreen economics professor Peter Bohmer, who was active in November's protests, told the Olympian the hip-hop duo that performed the night of the riots, Dead Prez, includes lyrics in its work that are critical of capitalism, racism, economic inequality and U.S. intervention abroad. That attracts an audience of people who share those sentiments and likely participated in the port protests, Bohmer said.

Bohmer said other factors have contributed to the worsening relations between students and Evergreen police, including the school's decision to arm police officers in the late 1990s. "On both sides, suspicion and distrust of each other grew," he said.

Charles Loosen, 25, a member of Evergreen's student union, pointed out that in the wake of what happened at the concert, students will have different attitudes toward the area's law enforcement agencies, which, as seen on one of the videos posted by the student union on YouTube, reacted differently toward concertgoers.

"It was the Olympia Police Department that was pepper-spraying students," he said.

The following statement was taken from A-Infos News.

US, Olympia SDS Statement on Police Racism and Violence on February 14th
Date Fri, 22 Feb 2008 09:09:58 +0200

The Olympia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society condemns the racist
arrest that occurred after the Dead Prez show on February 14th. The police are
an occupying force that brings violence and enforces racism in our community,
and they demonstrated both of these traits during the incident. The violence
after the concert was not initiated by the performers or the crowd, but rather
by the police. This is a concrete result of a history of interactions between
our communities and the police. In accordance with our mission statement,
Olympia SDS supports all people who resist racist, sexist and fundamentally
oppressive police. This statement does not mean that all members of SDS agree
with all tactics used, but we agree that the police were the initiators of the
violence and had previously demonstrated racism that evening.

Olympia SDS urges complete non-cooperation with police investigations. We call for the removal of police from The Evergreen State College as they enforce
racism and violence in our community.

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