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Resistance to war in Afghanistan declared in Olympia

"As long as US military attacks continue against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will continue to block military equipment from moving through our public port."
- Olympia Port Militarization Resistance
Olympia PMR women outside the Port gate, Nov. 13, 2007. Photo by Robert Whitlock
Olympia PMR women outside the Port gate, Nov. 13, 2007. Photo by Robert Whitlock
With the announcement of President Obama's plans to escalate the US war in Afghanistan, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance gathered to affirm its commitment to engage in nonviolent civil resistance in order to block military shipments from moving through the Port of Olympia. Previously OlyPMR was focused on blocking shipments to Iraq, but now recognizes the importance of blocking shipments destined for Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. Subsequently, the revised OlyPMR mission statement reads:

"The goal of Olympia Port Militarization Resistance is to end our community's participation in imperialist wars and occupations abroad, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, by stopping the US Military's use of the Port of Olympia."

Within five days of the President's announcement, a coalition of dozens of grassroots groups around the country quickly organized a campaign demanding congressional hearings on Afghanistan. But in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State, some antiwar activists are convinced that demands alone are insufficient.

Deployments of three Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, based at Ft. Lewis, are scheduled for later this year. One deployment is destined for Afghanistan, while the other two will be deployed to Iraq. In anticipation of the equipment being shipped through regional ports, a concerted campaign of resistance has been formulated.

OlyPMR was formed in May 2006 when - after two years of reliance upon more traditional expressions of opposition to the war shipments - local citizens decided to employ tactics involving more direct forms of action, such as using human blockades to stop convoys of Stryker vehicles and other equipment.

Since May 2006, there have been 155 arrests related to attempts to stop military shipments from nearby Ft. Lewis through the ports of Olympia, Tacoma, and Aberdeen - gaining national and international attention.

Just as the US invaded and occupied Iraq under false pretenses, the 9/11 attacks have been used as a pretext for the pursuit of US domination in Afghanistan and Pakistan. History has illustrated that interventions in the region have brought disastrous consequences. In the context of a struggling economy, domestic crises, and soaring deficits fed by war spending, a significant military escalation would likely prove catastrophic.

On March 18, 2009, the eve of the six-year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, OlyPMR issued this statement:

"As long as US military attacks continue against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will continue to block military equipment from moving through our public port. Olympia Port Militarization Resistance calls for people everywhere to find the ways that their own communities participate in these wars, and join together to creatively resist that participation.

"We must respect the sovereignty of other peoples and recognize that US intervention is a primary source of ongoing human suffering in these countries. Resources currently allocated for such imperial endeavors must be redirected toward urgent domestic needs. These realities should guide our understanding as we build a just and sustainable society at home and better relationships abroad."