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Police Use Excessive Force To Open OLY Port

author: Mollie
Nov 10, 2007 17:16

This morning, the Olympia police force showed up in riot gear, clearly ready to use force to disperse the anti-war protestors who had blockaded the 2 entrances to the Port. As the sun began to rise after a rainy night, the truckers, Port workers and soldiers began to arrive. The truckers parked in the nearby parking lot. Several protestors directed the Port workers and soldiers to a side entrance so they could get to work. The anti-war protestors stated they it was not their intention to stop people from going to work at the Port.

The truckers continued to arrive but not the police. At just before 8 a.m. all the truckers left the parking. The Olympia Police soon arrived in cars with their tear gas and rifles—but no van. They clearly had no intention of arresting the peaceful protestors.

The anti-war protestors were engaged in civil disobedience and fully expected to be arrested. And that could have been handled peacefully without the use of excessive force.

However, the police had pepper spray and they used it—spraying people directly in the face. It is important to note that the protestors were sitting in front of the barricade. They were not engaging in any action against the police nor were they resisting.

One police officer in particular who did not have a badge number on his helmet began pepper spraying. The demonstrators were roughly picked up, some were dragged, some may have been pummeled—and a few of the police took special delight in throwing them to the side of the road, into the gravel parking lot. They got extra points if they threw someone in a mud puddle.

The police then threatened the witnesses standing in the parking lot. I should note that people were pushed off the sidewalk into the street and then pushed them off the street into the parking lot. The police then held the street and stopped all traffic. At some point, the police decided to start spraying pepper spread into the crowd of witnesses in the parking lot—who clearly were not violating any law or causing any trouble. Among the many people hit with the spray was the Olympian photographer.

Several people were severely injured by the pepper spray and the police did call the medics, who stationed themselves at the far corner of the parking lot. However, when I walked up to see what was happening, I saw all the medics and firefighters standing around enjoying the sun while fellow activists treated two young women. Oh—the firefighter did have some bottled water the activists could use to help wash out eyes. One women in particular seemed in acute pain, saying her face was burning up and she was shivering as if going into shock. One of the activists found a safely blanket to help keep her warm. The medics offered no blankets nor did they try to offer to make her more comfortable. When I asked the Fire Chief why they were not doing anything, he said, “it is better if their friends calm them down.” Calming down was not the problem. I then asked if they were concerned that she might go into shock, he said that she wasn’t exhibiting the signs of someone going into shock. What were they, I asked. She was too animated, screaming in pain, he said to be going into shock.

At one point, as the trucks began to drive into the Port, someone came running up the block to ask if the medics could attend someone who had his foot run over. The Chief said, no, that person should come here. This made little sense, so someone else asked why he would not go to help. The Chief said that this was a dangerous situation and he would not risk his people. But these are peaceful demonstrators, said the man. You can’t know that, said the Chief. Another on-looker responded, yes, I suppose they might get pepper-sprayed in the face.

Finally, the Chief got uncomfortable and asked if the young woman wanted to go to the hospital. She wanted to go home and some of the activists said they would take her home. So, the Firefighters and the Ambulance left.

The barricades were quickly disassembled and the truckers drove quickly into the port. A little after 10, some truckers had loaded their cargo and drove away.

Curiously, the police kept anyone who looked like an anti-war activist off the sidewalk near the Port (and not all of them were) but seemed perfectly OK to let a few pro-war folks stay unmolested on the sidewalk. WTF? Why do the police have two standards for who can remain on a public sidewalk?

I have worked in government for several decades and have taught in public administration schools around the country. I have always believed that serving the public was a noble calling. This is the first time I have been witness to police violence against a peaceful group of demonstrators. I am ashamed of these public servants whose job it is to protect and serve, but who chose instead to act on emotion and prejudice.

It could have been easily handled. For one thing, the police could have just decided to wait out the demonstrators. What if people gave a demonstration and the police didn’t come? No action is an action. They could have just waited it out.

Alternatively, they could have negotiated the arrests—like they did in Tacoma and like they have done in DC at any number of protests. The DC police chief clearly understood that the job of the police was to protect the first amendment rights of the demonstrators as well as the rights of those that are the focus of the demonstrations. He knew that he as dealing with “kids with a cause” and did not overreact. Maybe the OLYMPIA police chief should get some training from the DC police.

The Olympia police chose violence. Why? I always like to attribute a lot of things to incompetence but I am not so sure that is the case here.

I am very proud of the young people willing to put themselves in harms way because they believe in democracy and because they oppose this illegal and immoral war.

add a comment on this article

Thank you for this well-written report.
Posted by: Mentifex at Nov 10, 2007 22:04

The tide is turning, away from the war-mongers and in favor of the courageous demonstrators. The demonstrators against the militarized Port are the finest human beings in America.

who is the guard?
Posted by: serenidade at Nov 11, 2007 06:42

To hear of fellow civillians brutalized in any way as they protest an end to war: this should rally people in support of the protestors--not rally criticism of protest, and justification for the police. The guard is there to protect those in power, and as soon as the guard (police, military, and their supporters) realize they have more in common with the protestors than the oppressors..?

The world is watching the heroic protests.
Posted by: Anonymous at Nov 11, 2007 06:57

In World War Two, Nazi Germany was the "bad guys."

In the Iraq War, American soldiers are the "bad guys"
fighting against the freedom fighters of the Iraqi

In Nazi Amrica, the Oly Port protesters are the good guys.

This is interesting..
Posted by: anonymous at Nov 11, 2007 09:26

So where did all these right-wing reactionaries on indymedia come from? Way to show solidarity and keep everyones hopes up guys.

blood for oil
Posted by: peak oil apocalypse at Nov 11, 2007 09:31

while authorities have a "right" to remove road blockades, there is no need or justification for being brutal. pepper spray can cause severe reactions in certain individuals and is very painful in the eyes; likewise batons are inappropriate on passive resisters.

the actions of these mostly young people are commendable; older folks usually cannot risk losing property, careers, jail time etc. when confronting the police state.

take lots of pictures and back off a bit when the pigs get out of kontrol. not worth getting teeth knocked out with a baton to make a statement.

second thought
Posted by: basta at Nov 11, 2007 11:48

it should be noted that with such resistance and news coverage, and money the city had to spend , im quite sure they will seriously reconsider ever using the oly port for military equipment again, we knew we couldnt stop the shipment but we could make them never want to do it again, and im pretty sure we're winning

Posted by: basta at Nov 11, 2007 15:19

in regards to leaving peacefully, i myself, am not claiming brutallity, the police did what police do and repress action. and yes if they wouldve said the strykers wont come through, then id be fine with it

Missing the point
Posted by: Andrew at Nov 11, 2007 16:41

Although I'm pretty sure you get it, basta, the point is that the Strykers were coming through with you either arrested and pepper sprayed or not. There really wasn't an alternative to that. That one you couldn't win. You could claim little victories in that the protests did create a delay, but the eventual outcome was always known, it was a predetermined outcome, we all knew that. The only unknown was the lengths your group were going to go to create delays or create situations where there would have to be confrontation. All in all both sides succeeded. The vehicles are where they are supposed to be and the protesters had their moment in the limelight.

Until next time...

Whos Who
Posted by: Drew Oly Copwatch at Nov 13, 2007 10:19

Aaron Jelcick, Robert Beckwell, Cliff Maynard, Michael O'Neill (left to right)

Not over yet...
Posted by: Oly PMR intelligence at Nov 13, 2007 10:22

We expect Stryker convoys later this morning.
Submitted by DrewHendricks on Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:23am.

Observers are seeing military vehicles (some with fuel tanks towed) going into the port this morning. That's not likely to be anything other than fuel for Stryker vehicles to move out under their own power in convoys, much like we saw a week ago (Wednesday night) from 9PM until 3:30AM Thursday. Except this time, there are about 60-80 vehicles left in the Marine Terminal and they would be able to move out in about 5-7 convoys (around two or three per hour). We are not sure how long they take to fuel up, but we will be watching them and hope to predict movements with more precision.
Bus full of drivers came into the Port.
Submitted by DrewHendricks on Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:07am.
We should see movement within the hour.
Human Blockades went up around 9AM
Submitted by DrewHendricks on Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:45am.
Stryker vehicles on flatbed trucks were blocked beginning about 45 minutes ago; Marine Drive and Franklin Street are both held. Police are absent.