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The Seattle Weekly

Watching the Protesters: The Spies Who Know Too Much

Rick Anderson

Blocking Army vehicles at the Port of Olympia in 2007. To critics, the fusion centers represent a de facto national intelligence agency. Opponents worry about privacy invasions and political spying, and suspect that local intel could be shared far and wide, such as with the nation's biggest spy operation, the National Security Agency. (Photo: Zoltán Grossman)

SEATTLE - Phil Chinn's Ford Taurus moved along with the traffic on Highway 12,
heading west in Grays Harbor County and beneath the Devonshire
Overpass, where Washington State Patrol trooper Ben Blankenship was
waiting. Blankenship put his cruiser in gear and moved down to the
four-lane highway, pulling in behind Chinn's vehicle. Within a few
miles, he hit his emergency lights. Chinn pulled over. It was May 6,
2007, early afternoon, the beginning of what the state patrol considers
a routine traffic stop, but one that would cost taxpayers a
half-million dollars.

A student at The Evergreen State College in
Olympia, Chinn and four friends were en route to Aberdeen for a second
day of protests against the United States' wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. They considered themselves anarchists in the Tiananmen
Square mold, protesters in a peace movement called Port Militarization
Resistance. It comprised mostly Olympia and Tacoma members of revived
historic protest groups-Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the
Wobblies, among others. Many were students at idealistic Evergreen,
where the curriculum includes Imperialism, Marxist Theory, and
Alternatives to Capitalism.


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Beginning in 2006, protesters hoisted
antiwar signs, marched arm-in-arm in the streets, and engaged in acts
of civil disobedience, which were rewarded with streams of pepper spray
and drag-away arrests. They attached their own locks to military gates
and sat down in front of the chrome bumpers of Army semis loaded with
war machinery. It could be exhilarating...

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