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Nov-16-2007 16:12printcomments

War Protesters Clash Repeatedly With Olympia Police (VIDEO)

Tensions are seriously out of control as war protesters battle police in riot gear armed with chemical agents.

war protest
Photos courtesy: YouTube

(OLYMPIA, Wash.) - Salem, Oregon sure is a mellow place in comparison to Olympia, Washington, the capitol city of our northern neighbor. War protesters held police at bay for 17 hours last Saturday, successfully forcing a military convoy back into the port.

The Stryker vehicle is what
the Olympia protest was over
Photo: armchairgeneral.com

Their main problem is the shipment of military supplies in and out of the Port of Olympia. Saturday their objective was to block a convoy of Stryker vehicles on their way back from Iraq. Ironically, the Stryker is one of the few vehicles in use overseas that allows soldiers to survive IED blasts.

The line of demonstrators from the group held hands in front of the port gate in nonviolent resistance as police repeatedly attacked them with close range pepper spray in an effort to make them disperse. Most were from the group, "Olympia Port Militarization Resistance."

You will have to decide after watching the video, but the group's idea of nonviolent protest may be debated in some circles. Either way, levels of violence accompanying their determination seem unrivaled when compared to many protests leading up to now. As the video shows, police wrenched the demonstrators apart and struck them with batons. But their methods look nothing like those of Alabama cops during the civil rights era, still it is very disturbing to watch.

“These demonstrations, motivated by disagreement over national policy, have sometimes blocked the movement of local citizens and interrupted the lawful flow of vehicles to and from the Port," Olympia Mayor Mark Foutch said.

"While most demonstrators have been respectful of the rights of others and have expressed their views lawfully, a smaller group has persisted in actions that, in the judgment of police officers on the scene, exceed their right to use the public rights-of-way for purposes of political expression.”

Patti Grant with the Port of Olympia, says that while the Port supports protesters right to demonstrate lawfully, they do not support illegal acts.

"Local cops cleared the road so commerce could proceed. The customer is the military and truckers are just trying to do their job," she said. But the protesters like Gordon Sturrock, Founder of "Veterans Against Torture" says shocked onlookers who rushed forward to provide help were subsequently attacked.

An Internet newsletter titled "GI Special" stated: "Medics trying to gain access to wounded demonstrators were also pepper sprayed and forced back with batons," he added. "Police heavily pepper sprayed, shoved and kicked demonstrators, as well as medics, legal observers, and bystanders, until they retreated to safety."

I called AMR Ambulance in Olympia, but was unable to reach their communications department to confirm that aspect of the story. The protesters say it happened.

A call was also placed to Olympia Police early Friday afternoon but we received no call back.

Olympia is a hotbed of high anxiety and reactions over the war in Iraq. The local paper "Olympian" stands firmly against the administration's war, but even they were unhappy with the protests last Saturday, as indicated by this excerpt from an editorial that ran this week.

"While we are firmly against President Bush's war and while we fully support protesters' right to peaceably assemble, we condemn the tactics that have played out on the streets of the capital city this week. When protesters resorted to blocking roads, dragging debris into the middle of downtown streets, breaking windows, destroying public property, damaging police cars and hurling rocks at police, they clearly crossed the line."

Story continues below

"GI Special" also alleges that police hit Patricia Hutchison, an Olympia student, with pepper spray and then immediately handcuffed her.

"She was detained in a police van where she remained for twenty-five minutes. Her repeated requests for medical attention were ignored. 'I thought the skin was literally peeling off my face. I was begging for help and no one would help me.'” Across the street, they allege that Patricia’s identical twin sister, Kathleen, also an Olympia student, saw her sister needing help.

“The hardest thing was seeing my sister in pain. I was begging them to help her.” The newsletter says police forced Kathleen away from friends and shoved her to the ground before dragging her to the police van.

It seems apparent that the problems in Olympia are another extremely tense escalation of a war that has buried our nation in a mountain of present and future problems.

The video below shows protests in Olympia that happened all in the span of one day, last Saturday. Protesters had more problems with police Sunday morning, when a group of women began to lay flowers in the road in front of the port gate in memory of the 48 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade killed in Iraq.

As the women were laying their memorial, they say police moved in, shoving them back to the curb with batons. A male protester, Vietnam veteran Wes Hamilton, says he was shot repeatedly in the groin with pepper spray bullets as he spoke out against the brutality.

Patricia Imani, a longtime Olympia resident, was shocked by what she experienced. “It’s unimaginable that police will come in with full riot gear and respond with such violence to women with flowers and shoot a veteran during a Veteran’s Day memorial.”

But what are the police supposed to do? Peaceful or not, these protesters are going over the line. But they say that it is all a response to the desperation they feel and because the United States is fighting an illegal war. One asked how lawful action on our soil can even be expected anymore, after seven years of a Bush Presidency?

I know I wouldn't want to be a police officer assigned to that duty, and I fear that when things escalate to a certain level, reason is lost and people see enemies in some who they never otherwise would.

In a statement released today, the Olympia Port Militarization Resistance called for people everywhere to find the ways that their own communities participate in the war, and to join together to creatively resist that participation: “We are ordinary people who have found a way to organize ourselves in resistance to this unjust war." "In this way we will act in the interests of the Iraqis, the soldiers, our children, and ourselves."

Hopefully the violence there will subside and at the same time, people who support the war will take notice of the desperation this President has brought the country. It is a sad story for a nation that once stood united.

The video is from "Olympia Port Militarization Resistance" and YouTube.

Video

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Neal Feldman November 19, 2007 10:34 pm (Pacific time)

Played for me just now with Mozilla Firefox too. Ah well...


Nory King November 19, 2007 3:16 pm (Pacific time)

For some reason, the video is no longer available. I wonder why it was pulled, and wish I had the opportunity to see it.

Nory: It just played for me on Firefox, can you check one more time?
Thanks, Tim


Jefferson November 19, 2007 12:34 pm (Pacific time)

Protesting comes with consequences. Those who took their small children and put them in harms way, should be real proud of themselves.


MCLMM November 19, 2007 8:28 am (Pacific time)

The police officers here used a great deal of restraint, I applaud them for keeping the motoring public safe from this human garbage in the street. The idiots in the road are endangering themselves, the driving public and (more importantly) the police officers involved. If the spoiled hippie youth of Olympia want to protest, take it off the roadway!


Matt Johnson November 18, 2007 2:53 pm (Pacific time)

Jen, did you either serve in the war or take part in a protest? These "dirty hippies" you refer to are determined people who have earned the respect of many, and I have no doubt they bathe just as often as you do. They are far more expressive in their democratic values than you or anyone else who throws stones from a distance. You are probably a well intended person, but judging by what you expressed to Leonardo, you are not the brightest bulb in the box either, being blinded by nationalism is not a virtue friend, and you support an illegal, immoral and unjust war. Christian values are tools to employ in your thinking, they expressly forbid us from partaking in anything like this. Confusing 'The Lord's flock' with being a sheepish American who believes misinformation by the shovelful if nothing else, has little in common. It is a detriment to all the good things this country once stood for. You should try to dial in friend, you are helping no one but what you are doing is angering people who will in turn take to the protest lines. And remember that when you hear about the latest casualties, that you are in part responsible for it, at least the protesters can say otherwise.


Vic November 17, 2007 7:07 am (Pacific time)

Good for them...at least when their grandkids ask them what they did to fight fascism , they will have something to say , unlike most of us. And Jen..your comment doesnt even warrant a reply. Havent heard the dirty hippie line for about 20 years. Ah well....


Jefferson November 18, 2007 9:14 am (Pacific time)

Yeah good ol' Voltaire, a good friend, but don't play Texas Hold'em with him... DD877 thank you for your military service. You earned your 1st Amendment rights.


DD877 November 18, 2007 5:46 am (Pacific time)

Yep Vic I spent 21 years in the Navy And My grand kids do ask and I tell them I even attended one of Their Veterans day Programs. So I guess that if you want to call me Armchair warrior that it is your first amendment right. Some other quote to bandy about might be While I disagree with what you say I will defend to the death your right to say it. Voltaire said that and he was a friend of Jefferson's


Tim King November 17, 2007 10:19 pm (Pacific time)

Jefferson, no doubt more information is needed, it always is. These comments stay with the story forever, so feel free to fill us in, thanks.


Jefferson November 17, 2007 10:16 pm (Pacific time)

It appears that more information is needed.


Neal Feldman November 17, 2007 1:17 pm (Pacific time)

There was never a declaration of war by the US Congress. They authorized the use of NECESSARY force and since it was clearly proven there were no wmds and that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 or al-qaeda (until we invaded Iraq that is) it is undeniable that the war in Iraq is illegal. Add to this the blatant violations by the Bush Administration of the Geneva convention and other articles of international law, the use of torture, denial of and violation of human, civil and legal rights etc and the picture becomes extremely clear. The US was founded by 'outlaws' who stood up to the authority of the time because the authority of the time was WRONG. Civil disobedience has a long and honored tradition but remember... true civil disobedience participants expect to be arrested. They do not presume or assume any immunity from prosecution because they know their acts are illegal. The ones who are nitwits are like the old clinic blockaders who seemed amazed when arrested as if they thought they had some legal immunity. Amazing. But it is interesting to see the police so joyfully attacking and abusing the protesters just like the Nazis some protesters in the video accused them of emulating. Nice job of breeding good will between the population and the police, guys. You probably set police/public relations back 100 years. But the question remains... when the administration exists in a protective bubble where they never hear or see anything that disagrees with them no matter what they do how else are the people to oppose the heinous and unconstitutional and illegal acts of this administration when all legal avenues are blocked or simply ignored? Hmmmm? I support the troops. I most assuredly do not support the criminals and tyrants of the Shrub administration or their anti-American agendas. Ah well...


Leonardo November 17, 2007 12:28 pm (Pacific time)

Jen: This is a discussion, and I'll ask you to keep a civil tongue in your head. I'm not doing any name-calling and if you have a valid point, you won't need to either.


Vic November 17, 2007 10:22 am (Pacific time)

Good for them..when their grandkids ask them what they did to resist the fascist takeover of our country, unlike most of us,they will have something to say. These people are true patriots, like it or not. You armchair warriors who cheer the slaughter of thousands are pathetic..put down your wine and cigarettes and go sign up and let someone who has been over there 3-4 times come home. Good post Leonardo...and DD , here's a quote from someone else you would consider a hippy and a bottom dweller.. "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" Thomas Jefferson Or how about this quote from someone else youd consider a left wing puke... "Blessed are the peacemakers"


Jefferson November 17, 2007 9:19 am (Pacific time)

DD877: Excellent analysis and appropriate conclusion as per prosecution, for this is not a 1st Amendment issue in regards to their violent behavior. They are law breakers!


Jen November 17, 2007 8:51 am (Pacific time)

Leonardo, there is civil disobedience and then there is stupidity. The protestors in Olympia are beyond stupid, they are complete morons. The equipment they tried to block leaving the country, is the very equipment that keeps our troops alive. Now they want to block it coming back into the country. They are so freaking stupid they can't even make up their minds. Do they want it here or do they want it in Iraq. Sounds like you've been sucking the bongwater too!


Leonardo November 17, 2007 7:42 am (Pacific time)

Civil disobedience goes back to the middle of the 19th century and Henry David Thoreau. Wikipedia: "It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War." To the best of my knowledge Thoreau didn't drink bongwater, but I may be wrong. The technique is supported by such men of peace as Gandhi and Martin Luther King -- neither of whom were on bongwater either. I'm old enough to remember Viet Nam. Civil disobedience was instrumental in stopping that war. It's what people do when they feel their government fails them. It has nothing to do with not supporting the troops. It has to do with resisting a government's policy decisions, and it is far more desirable than the anarchist bombings of the early 20th century. Read your history.


DD877 November 17, 2007 7:17 am (Pacific time)

A Illegal war is one that was not authorized by the president and Legislature With the exception of Dingy Dennis and Earl The Squirrel And a few other Perennial favorites It was a majority authorization. The Hippies and other bottom dwellers are Law Breakers and should be treated as such


Jen November 16, 2007 8:31 pm (Pacific time)

These protestors are getting exactly what they deserve. Why don't they try doing something constructive like supporting our troops instead of trying to see to it that they don't get equipment that could save their lives. You know, you really aren't supposed to DRINK the bongwater you unwashed idiots!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds like most of those protestors live on the stuff!


Jeff November 16, 2007 7:36 pm (Pacific time)

Although this is not the forum I choose to express my personal political views, I do have to pose this question.... How hipocritical is it to engage in illegal activity to protest an illegal war?


Leonardo November 16, 2007 7:30 pm (Pacific time)

Looks like scenes from the movie Gandhi.

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