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Olympia Port Militarization Resistance continues campaign to close Port to Iraq shipments

Olympia Port Militarization Resistance lobbies local officials and plans civil disobedience training as part of its campaign to close the Port of Olympia to military shipments bound for Iraq
Blocking the Stryker convoys in Olympia  - May 2006
Blocking the Stryker convoys in Olympia - May 2006
Olympia, WA, February 29, 2007 - Over the past week, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (OlyPMR), a local grassroots organization, has stepped up its efforts to close the Port of Olympia to military shipment bound for Iraq as part of President Bush's escalation of the conflict.

Members of OlyPMR met with Thurston County Sheriff Dan Kimball on Friday, February 23. The goal of the meeting was to open a line of communication between OlyPMR and the sheriff's office in anticipation that the sheriff's office would provide security for military shipments targeted for blockage by OlyPMR. During the meeting, Kimball revealed that the County will not provide security unless Port officials guarantee reimbursement of all costs, and assume all liability for potential civil litigation that arise from the protests.

"It was a very positive meeting," said Wes Hamilton a Vietnam Veteran and member of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. "We support the County's position that the costs for these shipments should not be borne by County taxpayers."

According to the National Priorities project, the occupation of Iraq has already cost Thurston County citizens over $300 million.

Members of OlyPMR also spoke at the Thurston County Commissioners' meeting on February 26, and at the Port Commission and Olympia City Council meetings on February 27. The lobbying is part of a continuum of actions currently focused on public education and communication with key elected officials.

In his comments to the County Commissioners, Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson thanked them for taking action consistent with the views of a majority of their constituents. Later Johnson added that "A strong majority of Thurston County residents oppose the ongoing occupation, and even more oppose Bush's escalation. The decision by the sheriff and the commissioners to end their support for the occupation is consistent with their obligations as democratically-elected representatives."

While OlyPMR is working aggressively to prevent military shipments bound for Iraq, it is also preparing for the potential that equipment will be shipped through the Port of Olympia. The group plans to use non-violent civil disobedience to physically block such shipments.

OlyPMR has organized several workshops to train community members interested in participating in civil disobedience. The first workshop is Sunday, March 4 from 10am to 6pm at The Evergreen State College Seminar 2, Room E-3105. The second workshop is Thursday March 8 and Friday March 9 from 5:30-8:30pm. On March 8, the workshop will be at the United Methodist Church, 1224 Legion Way SE. The March 9 workshop will be at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 2200 East End St NW.

Molly Gibbs, a local mother who has organized the workshops, encourages anyone planning to participate in civil disobedience to attend. According to Gibbs, "The workshops will provide skills to help all participants support each other in the spirit of non-violence agreed to by OlyPMR."

Caitlin Esworthy, an Olympia resident and student at The Evergreen State College, plans to attend the workshops. "Non-violent civil disobedience is an important part of the continuum of actions to prevent the military's use of the port," said Esworthy. She added that "the workshops will help people learn techniques and strategies for applying some of the strongest tools of democracy tools that have been historically used to win and secure our freedoms, such as civil rights, women's rights, and workers' rights."

OlyPMR believes that its campaign will provide a powerful model for other communities seeking to end their participation in the occupation of Iraq. "Our efforts in Olympia can serve as an important beacon of hope and inspiration for other communities frustrated by the ongoing violence in Iraq," said Sandy Mayes a registered nurse and 24 year resident of Olympia.

The OlyPMR campaign is endorsed by the Veterans for Peace #109 (Rachel Corrie Chapter), Olympia Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Green Party of South Puget Sound, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, Students for a Democratic Society, Olympia Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee.

For more information contact:

Sandy Mayes

Wes Hamilton

Molly Gibbs

Caitlin Esworthy

Phan Nguyen

homepage: homepage: http://www.omjp.org
phone: phone: 360-943-4596

open letter to port militarization 05.Mar.2007 19:51


open letter to port military resistance

There is a saying about rebellion: caminar preguntando, to walk asking.

At the port protest Sunday 3/5 folks walked into a militarized/secured corridor several thousand feet long with barbed wire toped fences along the route. The police were aware of people presence and intentions and on hand the entire time. People stood under the gaze of the police/military and waited to engage until they were up against MILITARY vehicles. It does not shock me that the State was not affected.
I find it disturbing that in the articles (etc) reporting on the action that talk about folks being arrested it is omitted that people WANTED to be arrested.
"These fucking monsters are frothing at the mouth to
get at us and WE NEED MORE PEOPLE! to even have a remote chance of not
letting this happen again."
This is ridiculous. The protest leaders were in dialogue with the police the entire time. They allowed the protesters to come up to the gates, and I do mean allowed. And to my mind the protestors allowed the police to dominate them and for the military machine(s) to operate unencumbered.

"For the last three nights
we have been standing a rock-throw away from the machines and it
disgusts me that they are that close to us while we are standing there,
Throwing rocks at styker vehicles?! Hmm... In a pen surrounded by the police and after announcing these plans to State.

To my mind there is a strange fetishization of civil disobedience. How does voluntary arrest help? I think it communicates to ourselves (protestors, the public, etc.) and the powers-that-be that it is ok for them to arrest us and continue business as usual.

People were very concerned with staying off the road and behind the white line. Perhaps a trivial issue but it seems to indicate that people have really internalized and accepted the way in which the state wants us to engage.
As was blatantly obvious last night, if we engage the state on the state's terms we will be irrelevant. Or far more dangerous this effort could channel discontent and opposition into a specialized activism that is stupid and leads to apathy. A movement that takes in people as recruits, as fresh meat, and spits out folks made all the more apathetic and disempowered because when they tried to rebel those who claim that they can be looked upon for guidance used them as cannon-fodder. That people looking for direction in ways to engage the oppression in society will be told to:
hold signs, often literally at no one. Or perhaps if we 'protest' our communication becomes irrelevant. That when many people see 'activists' at 'protests', especially through the lens of the media, the viewers completely disengage from what the protestors are actually saying because non-protestors imagine the protestors to belong to a special class of people -activists. This spectacle is a trap, a cage designed to keep rebellion from spreading. What does it mean to be an activist? It means your issues are irrelevant and illogical. That you are taking action not because of the situation in front of you but as a strange perverse hobby. And it plays into the history of how rebels have been disarmed in the past- that activism is a phase that will pass when you grow and get real. I am saying get real now, as a rebel and not a slave. And many folks who claim to wish to transform society actively keep up this social wall, they have been told so many times they are an activist that they repeat this vision to themselves and to the rest of the world.

Lobby- beg from those who are responsible for so much terror in the world and should not have decision making power over those who are affected in the first place.
Get arrested on purpose. - Perhaps we should not ignore any possible avenue for change. But this involves many risks and costs and I think it needs to be done strategically. There was no potential for this (played-out) civil disobedience to stop or seriously delay the transport last night, yet it was held up as the epitome as radicalness. Any movement I wish to take part in would be one where people most affected by the capitalist system might want to take part in. as many people well know fuck the police, so, why actively give them leverage over you?

Be nonviolent/stay within your rights- as soon as you are a threat to the system you have no rights. We only have rights from the bad government as long as we are ineffective. So be realistic and use what avenues you have to do what you need to do but never be lulled in to thinking you have inalienable rights.

What is the point? To make it so the military can't use Olympia's and Tacoma's ports?-perhaps in this context lobbying makes sense. Does that mean we want them to use other ports?

To tangibly resist the war machine? To communicate to the troops in the hope they rebel in their and all of our best interests? To build momentum and empower folks to have control over their own lives?

Something I thought was really cool about last night's action was the messages to soldiers. That being out there playing at direct action happened to also afford us an opportunity to speak very briefly to the troops. There was communication from real people to soldiers at the moment of their departure reminding them that despite all their hardships they are still free. I was reminded that soldiers and privileged schmucks like me always still have choices to make.

To me that was a sanitized and boring event. I left because I was bored and I have no desire to get whopped up on so that wanna be martyrs can have their media spot.
That said: it was inspiring and beautiful to see people taking action. The war machine does need to be contested. I do not think that everything everyone else was doing was pointless. I do not have all the answers.
If one wanted to try and physically deter the strykers perhaps consider doing it not directly in front of the pigs.

We are risking our freedom, and the actions we make now will make up our future. We must consider our actions with attention.

Love n rage,
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"

"pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will"