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Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Anti-War Protests in Olympia

posted by on November 17 at 13:00 PM

posted by news intern Brian Slodysko

photos by Robert Whitlock


Protesters at the Port of Olympia attempting to blockade military equipment returning from Iraq finally packed up their civil disobedience and went home Thursday, after the last equipment convoys left the port for Ft. Lewis.

According to the Olympia Police Department, the last of the military trucks departed at 4:20 p.m. to minimal resistance, though five arrests were made. Some equipment remains in railcars on port property, which Olympia Police say they will be keeping a close eye on.

It was a long ten days for all involved, with 63 arrests made over the course of the week plus. The few remaining protesters joked about setting up a dinner table at the entrance gate so they could sit down for a meal while blocking the last convoy.

Thursday’s demonstrations brought an anti-climatic close to a protest that began with powerful images of non-violent demonstrators standing down a military convoy.

And while the demonstrations started as a powerful, media concious effort, keeping a tight hold on the reins proved difficult for organizers as days passed.

On Tuesday an estimated 200 people took to the streets, resulting in 43 of the 63 arrests. After it was all said and done, dozens had been hosed down with pepper spray, a police cruiser’s windshield was shattered, a policeman was hit in the knee with a rock, and a few windows were smashed at a downtown Olympia U.S. Bank.

Noah Sochet of the Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, the group spearheading most of the effort, defended protesters’ actions, saying he was surprised the violence and vandalism were as limited as they were. Sochett said OPMR has no official leadership structure, which causes ambiguities in the group’s strategy.

Regardless, the night’s vandalism and violence stands in opposition to the OPMR’s stated goals and the “peaceful protest” mantra chanted by the crowd that week. It also doesn’t undo the all the attention the demonstrators brought to the ongoing occupation of Iraq; nor take away from the fact that they outmaneuvered the military for several hours, successfully shutting down the Port of Olympia.

“We don’t deny the things that happened, but the purpose of the demonstrations was to stop the shipment of military equipment. Because we don’t have central leadership everybody has a different idea of what the goals of port militarization resistance are,” said Sochet.

Tuesdays’s events turned the tables on the OPMR, which had benefited from a media savvy use of tactics, and the regional press has been pretty hard on them for not keeping things non-violent. Even the anti-Iraq war Olympian ridiculed
the group for protesting the war by blockading equipment that’s coming back from Iraq.

Conservative demagogue Michelle Malkin jumped into the fracas, labeling the activists as punks, whiners and thugs , before maligning them with Al Jazeera.

Sandy Mayes, who’s been serving as a de-facto media contact for the OPMR says Tuesday night’s coverage is hijacking the narrative of the week as a whole. She says she distinguishes between powerful images (people locked together across a freeway onramp) and sensational images (protesters throwing rocks), and placed the onus on those covering the events.

“It’s out of my hands, but out of everything that happened I consider [the vandalism] to be quite minor compared to everything else that happened. Someone throws a rock and it somehow eclipses everything that happened earlier in the week?”


RSS icon Comments


"Someone throws a rock and it somehow eclipses everything that happened earlier in the week?"

Yes, unfortunately for you, that's exactly how it works.

Posted by fnarf | November 17, 2007 1:21 PM

That last pic is great.

Posted by mike | November 17, 2007 1:45 PM
Posted by Brian | November 17, 2007 1:51 PM

These protests really piss me off, because they only help michelle malkin and bill o'reilly by manifesting some bogey men for them to rail about.

what they did was provide film of idiotic vandals "protesting" our "troops". that film can only hurt their cause, and if anything, will end up in rudy's campaign commercials about how he'll protect us from "people who hate america".

Fucking idiots. I bet they voted for nader too.

Posted by fucking dumb | November 17, 2007 2:15 PM

The Evergreen Jewish student joined the anarcho-hippy and InfoShop activists of Evergreen campus to protest the unjust shipment of military equipment.

As I Jew I believe in Tikkum Olam, making the world right. It is our duty to protest for the oppressed and for justice. I am so proud of the Jewish students from Evergreen who have lead these protests. I believe the American military is run by Christian idiots, and American service men are also Christian idiots.

If only the American military could follow Israel's lead and have a draft. Some of my friends from Manhattan moved to Israel just to serve in the military. I'm so proud of Israel's military, but America's military is a joke that should be protested.

Posted by Issur | November 17, 2007 2:22 PM

Idiots. Harms the cause.

Instead they should be sending 1000's of e mails to Congressman Brian Baird who just voted AGAINST the Democrat's legislation to put a timetable on the war.

Or lobbying some credible candidate to file against Baird.

Yes you have an obligation to fight for justice you also have an obligation to do something effective.

Posted by unPC | November 17, 2007 4:17 PM

There are rational reasons to be against this war that may be totally unknown to these "protesters" with their idiotic slogans. They make anyone against the war look dumb.

Posted by Peter | November 17, 2007 4:51 PM

I want to end the war but this seems like the worst idea. Its time to redirect this energy into something that will actually produce change. I think Matt Taibbi sums it up pretty nicely in this piece from 2003 -

Posted by Shawn Fassett | November 17, 2007 5:29 PM

Seattle people actually know what's going on in Olympia? Ain't that some shit!

As for sending 1000's of emails: what good as that done so far? People have been sending email and lobbying congress since this war started and it doesn't seem to phase anyone with the power to stop it. Nothing is going to change until the people in power are forced to. Now whether or not they were effective in their protests is a matter of opinion, but at least they are doing something that isn't just sitting on your ass and clicking "send".

Posted by brandon h | November 17, 2007 8:09 PM

leave them kids alone!

Posted by call me a snot | November 17, 2007 11:59 PM

Brandon b:
sneer all you want but it's not opinion, it's fact.

Tell me how many attempts to use force to change government policy have worked in the USA: zero.
the real result: many voters are sickened and turned off then they vote for the law andorder candidate be it Nixon or now, Giuliani.
The way you change things is electoral politics organizing and writing and volunteering for an antiwar candidate. You down in Olympia can't even seem to find theballs to run someone against Brian Baird who ran as a liberal D and now turned around to support the war!!!!

"the system doesn't work, man, so we have to use force to interdict war materials and then this will arouse public opinion against the war " = stupidity and will only get you in jail.

Running a candidate against Baird = news across america = getting about $300,000 on the internet in about 2 weeks = making him debate the war over nad over around Olympia and environs = possibly replacing him.

Use the good tools you have. Going illegal and using force and damaging US military property harms the cause. This may be opinion or fact but ifopinion it is an informed opinion. Thinking that interfering with war supplies might be effective is very uninformed, selfish and arrogant.

Posted by unPC | November 18, 2007 8:33 AM

Are you Sloggers too young to remember VIET NAM???? Massive street protest and civil disobedience played a huge part in bringing that fiasco to a halt. I give these kids credit for putting their asses on the line while the bloggers sit around typing for freedom.

Posted by M | November 18, 2007 6:51 PM

Until we see way more of these, nothing will happen.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 18, 2007 10:44 PM

You know, those colonists have some legitimate grievances, but throwing all of that tea in Boston Harbor reflects terribly on the rest of us...

Posted by Mr. X | November 19, 2007 9:47 AM

Best comment ever Mr. X

Posted by spokane | November 19, 2007 12:13 PM

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