Olympia Port Militarization Resistance Resistance Denounces Police Brutality In Current Campaign Against Iraq War
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 14, 2007
CONTACT: Olympia Port Militarization Resistance
Olympia Port Militarization Resistance Denounces Police Brutality In Current Campaign Against Iraq War
OLYMPIA, WA - November 14 - UPDATE - 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.
The women are slowly being released with numerous other demonstrators at the Olympia City Jail. Olympia Port Militarization Resistance is calling for regional support on Saturday, Nov. 17th at 1:00pm in Olympia, Washington. The gathering begins at Percival Landing on the corner of 4th Avenue and Water Street and will end at the Port Plaza. Supporters can contact email@example.com for more information.
From Earlier Release: (4:07 am 10/14)
Demonstrators at the Port of Olympia, on Wed night, Nov 7, stood in the road with linked arms to block military shipments in a dramatic show of support for the demilitarization of their port. By the end of that night, Olympia police had attacked demonstrators with batons and OC gas (pepper spray), tactics which were further escalated on Sat. On Sun night, City Council member TJ Johnson opened the doors to city hall for an emergency community forum, where a packed city council chamber heard compelling testimony from more than sixty citizens who experienced police brutality over the preceding several days.
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." Thirty-seven people were arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience over the course of ten days during that first campaign.
On Mon, Nov 5 of this year, the USNS Brittin arrived at the Port of Olympia with equipment from the 3rd Stryker Brigade returning from that same deployment in Iraq. The troops of the Brigade had returned to Fort Lewis about two weeks previous, missing 48 of their fellow soldiers who had died from injuries sustained in Iraq.
On Sat morning, after detaining any movement of military equipment for 17 hours and successfully forcing a convoy back into the port, a line of demonstrators held hands in front of the port gate in nonviolent resistance as police repeatedly attacked them with close range pepper spray. As video and witness accounts clearly show, police wrenched the demonstrators apart, struck them with batons and threw them into a nearby ditch. Shocked onlookers who rushed forward to provide help were subsequently attacked. Medics trying to gain access to wounded demonstrators were also pepper sprayed and forced back with batons.
At noon, a group of demonstrators moved to a more visible downtown intersection. As military vehicles flanked by police in full riot gear approached, several demonstrators stepped into the road. Police heavily pepper sprayed, shoved and kicked demonstrators, as well as medics, legal observers, and bystanders, until they retreated to safety.
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, Patricia’s identical twin sister, Kathleen, also an Olympia student, saw her sister needed help. “The hardest thing was seeing my sister in pain. I was begging them to help her.” Police forced Kathleen away from friends and shoved her to the ground before dragging her to the police van. Both sisters were booked and released without charge. No explanation has been given for their detainment. Kathleen and Patricia were among those testifying on Sun night.
Sun morning 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, the police moved in, trampling the flowers and shoving the women back to the curb with batons. Wes Hamilton, a Vietnam veteran, 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.”
At this time, in apparent response to an increased watchfulness from the media, the Olympia Police Department maintains no visible presence at the port, and demonstrators have been able to prevent movement of military equipment while allowing regular port business to recommence. The hard won success of the demonstrations has impressed many Olympia residents. Wes Hamilton says, “I am proud of these young people; they are my heroes. I saw them acting on their values in ways that I wish I had the courage to act. They are doing for us all the things we say we stand for.”
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.”
In a statement released today, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance calls 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. We call on all people of goodwill to find their own methods of creative noncompliance. In so doing, we will be joining together to dissent from unlawful and unjust authority, which should be considered the essence of democracy. In this way we will act in the interests of the Iraqis, the soldiers, our children, and ourselves.”
Link to footage of police action against protestors: