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His journal posts
Nov 15, 2007
The announcement is from RW/FSP but the action in Olympia is for everyone.
We're hoping to get a Green Party contingent and any labor folks possible.
Olympia is putting itself on the line against the war, and they need our support.
According to organizers I've talked to, there should be a clear choice for those that don't want to participate in civil disobedience (if there is to be any - that isn't certain) though the police aren't always so cooperative.
Thanks for your time, I hope you can come show support for ending the war.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Nov 17 Rally and march in Olympia to support port activists
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 17:52:36 -0800
To: RW List
Rally and march in Olympia to support port activists
Saturday, Nov. 17, 1:00pm
Carpools leave Seattle at 11:30am
from New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S. (Coffee and donuts 11-11:30am.)
Please call 206-722-2453 if you need a ride or can offer one.
Anti-war activists have been blockading military shipments through the Port of Olympia since November 5. On Tuesday night, 57 women held the front line of the blockade and stopped the movement of military equipment until the Olympia police arrested them and then began their assault on the remaining demonstrators.
The police have escalated their violence using batons, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and teargas against non-violent demonstrators. Olympia Port Militarization Resistance has called out fosupport on Saturday at a gathering that begins at Percival Landing and will end at the Port Plaza.
Directions: Percival Landing is just North of the intersection of State Ave. NW and Water St. SW. in Olympia. Take the 105B Exit from I-5. Go north on Plum St. SE to State Ave. NW. Turn left on State and go west approximately 9 blocks. After you cross Columbia St. SW, the street curves left onto Water St. The rally site is on the right near a large statue of two people kissing.
Contact Olympia public officials
Call and email city officials to insist they put a stop to the police brutality and arrests of community residents expressing their constitutional right to dissent. Olympia's port should not be used for military purposes in the unjust war on Iraq.
Mayor Mark Foutch - email@example.com
City Manager Steve Hall - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 360-753-8447 for both
Police Chief Gary Michel
For more information contact:
Radical Women, Rwseattle@mindspring.com, 206-722-6057
Freedom Socialist Party, FSPseattle@mindspring.com, 206-722-2453.
Nov 15, 2007
The Stryker Blockade
10 Days That Shook Olympia
By PETER BOHMER
For 10 days, anti-war activists in Olympia, Washington
have slowed down and for two different periods of 12
hours or more, stopped the flow of military weapons
and military cargo that were unloaded from a Navy ship
that had returned from Iraq. For 24 hours a day, we
have used a variety of tactics and actions. They have
included sitting in front of trucks carrying Stryker
vehicles and other military equipment from leaving the
Port of Olympia, building barricades on the roads
where these military vehicles were traveling, anti-war
demonstrations through the streets of Olympia and
vigils, downtown. A hearing was held at City Hall,
last Sunday, November 11th, 2007 to document the
excessive police force used against people who
participated in these actions. We testified at the
Olympia City Council and at a hearing of the elected
Port Commissioners demanding that they take a stand
opposing the U.S. war against Iraq by not letting our
Port be used to transport war supplies. About 500
people have taken part in some or all of these
(cut for length)
The major group coordinating the current actions is
the Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) organization.
It was formed in May, 2006 when Olympians outraged by
the war attempted to block outgoing Stryker vehicles
and other military equipment in advance of the
deployment of the 3rd Brigade Stryker team from Ft.
Lewis, Washington, 15 miles north of Olympia. The
troops from this Brigade returned to Ft. Lewis in
October, 2007 minus the 48 soldiers who did not
return; they were killed in Iraq. PMR's goal is to
"end our community's participation in the illegal
occupation of Iraq by stopping the military's use of
the Port of Olympia". Its strategy from the beginning
has included public education about the war and how
the military's use of the Port supports the military
occupation, and a commitment to non-violent civil
disobedience. PMR has tried to work with the Longshore
Union (ILWU), Local 47, although this has been
difficult because the members of this small local are
dependent on military shipments for a significant
proportion of their work and few feasible alternatives
to contracts with the military have been put forward.
In the most recent protests, the union or at least its
leadership was not supportive of our actions to close
About two weeks ago, PMR found out from a City Council
member and major peace activist, TJ Johnson, that the
USNS Brittin would dock in Olympia and unload its
cargo. The original PMR position was that we would try
to block outgoing shipments but not incoming military
equipment. However, on November 4th, 2007, the night
before the ship landed in a very long meeting, PMR
voted 29 to 14 to try to stop the Stryker vehicles and
other military equipment to leave the port. The
reasoning was that the military equipment was part of
the ongoing war against the Iraqi people, that is was
being refurbished and repaired at Ft. Lewis to be used
again in Iraq, that it was part of a revolving door of
war materials coming from and going back to Iraq. In
addition, participants at this and the next meeting
pointed out that the Depleted Uranium (DU) on the
returning military vehicles was a danger to the
Longshore workers unloading the ship, to the soldiers
and truckers transporting the equipment and to the
residents of Olympia. We shared the information on DU
that we gathered with the ILWU although they proceeded
to unload this military ship.
10 Days of Actions
On November 5th and 6th, there was a vigil and a march
through Olympia of 160 people and a rally at the Port,
where two of the main speakers were Iraqi vets. As
pointed out by local activist and geographer, Zolt¨¢n
Grossman, there are few if any other locations in the
U.S. where a major military base is near a progressive
community. We have been making the argument that
ending the war and working for economic justice such
as health care for all, free college education, and a
living wage is a principled way to support the troops.
Members of Veterans for Peace have played a major role
in PMR. On Wednesday, November 7th , as military
equipment and Stryker vehicles left the Port, almost
100 people sat or stood in the streets to block the
vehicles. The Olympia police cleared the streets using
pepper spray and their clubs. One participant in this
action, with no warning, was hit directly in the face
by a policeman's club causing his chin to split open.
(cut again for length)
On Friday, November 9th, about 60 courageous people
sat down in front of a truck inching forward,
endangering the people sitting down. The driver
finally stopped as did another truck carrying military
cargo. Barricades were built at the other exit and for
17 hours no military equipment moved out of the Port.
This is longer than the WTO was closed down in
November 1999 in Seattle. The next day, Saturday, riot
police shooting pepper spray into people's eyes,
eventually forcing us away from the port entrance. The
military equipment was temporarily blocked from moving
through downtown Olympia and onto the main entrance to
the freeway to Ft. Lewis. 16 people were arrested and
many more were pepper sprayed or butted by clubs.
Olympia resembled an occupied city with police spread
out in riot gear and military convoys on the streets.
Activists including key medical and legal support
teams from surrounding communities including Portland,
Tacoma. Grays Harbor and Port Townsend joined us in
acts of solidarity.
Protest continued Sunday and Monday, Veteran's Day, as
did the transport of the Strykers although the
majority of military cargo remained within the Port.
Riot police surrounded protesters limiting direct
Tuesday, November 13th will be a day long remembered
by many in Olympia. In the morning about 20 people sat
down at the Port entrance blocking military equipment
from moving. For 13 hours no military equipment moved
out of the Port. Hence, for a minimum of 30 hours, we
stopped Stryker vehicles from returning to Ft. Lewis,
a major action and statement. In the evening about 200
people gathered at the Port of Olympia entrance to
resist by various and complementary means the war and
the militarization of Olympia. In the midst of this
action, a GI from Ft. Lewis who was supposed to be
involved in the transport of these military vehicles
to Ft. Lewis, walked out of the Port, saying he was
against the war and refused to transport the war
equipment. This was a really powerful action and
reminded me of the increasing resistance to the
Vietnam war by active duty soldiers. Civilian anti-war
and GI cooperation and solidarity is a key to ending
this war. This is a victory for Port Militarization
Resistance organization (PMR) and the anti-war
movement as a whole.
Also, in the evening of the 13th, 38 courageous women
sat down, linking arms, at the entrance to the port
and the women refused to leave even as riot police
told them they would be pepper sprayed. They were all
arrested by the police beginning at 9 P.M., and held
for seven hours although it is not clear whether they
will be charged. Beginning around 10 P.M., a large
convoy of Stryker vehicles left through a different
Port exit with the connecting roads being cleared by
police shooting tear gas, projectiles, and pepper
spray. Some of the vehicles were delayed by barricades
hastily constructed by protesters as we moved though
Olympia trying to stop this movement. By 1:30 A.M.,
Wednesday, November 14th, the resistance slowed.
Vigils have continued as most but not all of the
military equipment has left the port. Over the last 10
days, 63 people have been arrested, many more have
been hit by pepper spray.
On Sunday, November 11th, 100 people attended a forum
at the Olympia City Council where protesters spoke up
about the excessive police violence-pepper spray in
their eyes, being arrested for no cause, being hit
with a police club. Olympia, Washington is divided.
Participants and a few non-participants in these
protests have seen first hand, totally unjustified
police force at some of the actions. For example, last
night, November 13th, a non-participant in these
actions who was skateboarding at a local park was hit
in the face with rubber bullets and tear gas. He
decided not to go to work today at a local children's
museum because he was afraid his appearance would
scare the kids. On the other hand many residents
believe that the demonstrations are wrong and that the
police are justified in the force they are using.
(cut for length)
(cut for length)
Has this strong and powerful, "10 Days that Shook
Olympia", helped build a stronger anti-war movement in
Olympia? Many, mainly younger people, took major
physical risks in blocking Stryker vehicles from
moving and sitting down in front of them. Hopefully,
this courage and commitment will continue as we build
a stronger movement that integrally connects the war
to economic injustice, repression and racism at home
and to U.S. corporate domination abroad, that the
primarily white student protesters act more in the
future in solidarity with the repression and
oppression faced by Muslims, African-Americans, Native
Americans, Latinos/Latinas, poor people and workers in
their daily lives. It is hard to assess the support
for this port resistance in Olympia, probably the
majority does not support it. More outreach needs to
be done. Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) needs to
talk to and explain our actions to the general public
and make it easier for people to be involved in our
actions who are not already on our listservs.
Hopefully, the militancy, courage, tactics, spirit, of
these very strong actions will inspire others
throughout the United States to stand up and not be
complicit with the torture and occupation being
carried out in our name.
It is very likely the military will not use the Port
of Olympia again for military shipments during the
duration of the occupation of Iraq. This is a victory.
A bigger victory and ongoing task is for PMR to
educate ourselves and others about how Olympia is
being militarized, e.g., by challenging military
recruiters in the schools and the deployment of the
National Guard to Iraq. It also means working with the
Longshore Union, and other communities in Washington
State and nationally and with military resisters to
raise the social cost of this war and make it
impossible to wage. Now is the time to increase
militant and dramatic action against this war as well
as more traditional demonstrations where 70% of U.S.
residents oppose the war while those in power continue
to wage it and most of the Democratic Party leadership
acquiesces to it. NOT IN OUR NAME!!
Here are some links to the actions of the last 10 days
provided by Zolt¨¢n Grossman,
Olympia Movement for Peace & Justice
Port Militarization Resistance background
Other videos from this week:
Music video on past port protests
Peter Bohmer has been opposing the imperial actions of
the United States since the 1960s. He is a longtime
member of the faculty at The Evergreen state College
in Olympia, WA.
May 18, 2007
I just escorted two agents from the ATF out of my building and informed them they needed an invite or a search warrant. I informed them that this is a private residence (we live in a co-op that used to be a hotel).
I was alerted to their presence because one of my housemates called me after they forced their way past her as she was leaving for work.
They claimed to be friends of another housemate but that this was a surprise visit. I told them this wasn't cool and that they had to leave. They were not quick to do so but I did get them out. (Said housemate is in Rainforest Action Network.) Asked me a lot of questions that I answered by telling them they had to leave.
Two white males, one with glasses and balding over 6 foot, one a bit shorter (baseball cap), both clean shaven, wearing casual street clothes.
Before leaving, they did ask if the letter carrier delivered mail in the post boxes, so they may try to use that as a basis for entering again.
Writing this because I'm still burning up.
Apr 19, 2007
Blogs are great for posting half-baked, derivative meanderings with delusions of grandeur. Here's my contribution.
Why Virginia Tech?
Cain asked the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
In a world as densely populated as ours, the answer should be that if we are not our brother's keeper, if we are not concerned about each individual in society's grand collective, it is a tragedy of not just losing one life, but many.
I don't mean to excuse taking out one's alienation in a blind rage against fellow human beings. But what kind of society sits idly by while individuals feel so lost and inconsolable that it is not enough to simply take your own life, but the lives of others?
Questions about whether or not more or less guns would have prevented the situation are immaterial. Lives are lost in this society every day without the use of guns. And while guns certainly have the advantage in ease of use for mass murder, our densely populated and complex society has so many vulnerabilities that even erasing all guns would not make us safer. We are so vulnerable that a simple box cutter can become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of the sick and determined. We live in glass houses amidst a field of rocks.
In the US today, we are "bowling alone" living atomized and powerless lives. The 'free' market is capricious and uncaring. People's jobs, their livelihoods, means to provide for their family's future, are increasingly insecure. We are told that the forces maligning us are global and unstoppable. Those who try to stand against such forces are called "flat earthers" and ridiculed for working for human needs instead of individual profit. Even for those with employment, housing is not a given in this productive and opulent land. The largest cause of individual bankruptcies are unpayable medical bills in a society that spends more per capita on health care than any other nation. From these and many other created fears, people seek solace not in each other but in consumerism. We are told to shop our fears away.
Decades after Martin Luther King declared his dream of a nation that treats each diverse member as part of the same family, we are increasingly segregated. Not simply between those who have and those who have not, we are divided by skin, language, sex. People are attacked for who they are, where they come from and who they love. In a world of so many fears, is it no wonder that people fear those different from them? Or as a bulwark against their insecurities blame those who look different, cynically use these differences for their own advancement?
The nation that invented and built the means to track hurricanes does not use this magic to save the lives of those in need. When people tried to escape and save themselves, they were shot at by people who feared destitute strangers.
The social bonds that we need as humans are under siege. I live in the downtown core of a large and prosperous city. Yet everyday I have to turn a blind eye to suffering and lost people. I simply do not have the means to provide for myself and these disposable people I meet outside my door. Every day my heart must harden and atrophy because I have to save myself before I save others, to not act on the care I still somehow feel. What lesson are we teaching each other when we pass by those in need? When a lonely and hurting soul looks out their door for solace and sees the empty hallways and closed doors of their neighbors, what hope do they have?
We won't ever know why Cho did what he did.
Even before he picked up his guns on Monday, he'd made life a horror for many women in his community. Two Mondays previous, there was a domestic violence murder-suicide by Rowan, another sick individual, at the University of Washington. Did this spur Cho to go beyond fantasy to horrible reality, vowing not just to take one woman with him but dozens near by? Do the mixed messages of sexual license, violence and powerlessness that males receive create stalkers like Rowan and Cho? It is certainly a reoccurring phenomenon, one that has more victims every day.
Getting inside Cho's head is not a place I want to go or where I wanted to take this rant.
One can also compare the attention to the 32 innocent lives lost at Virginia Tech with the thousand plus lives lost to Katrina or the even more ignored thousands who die in workplace accidents every year. Every one a tragedy just as senseless and needless.
The young shooter at Virginia Tech likely did not yet have to personally feel the weight of these economic shackles we are bound by. The damage had been done already by a world that did not care, a culture of not caring. Even before he picked up his guns on Monday, he'd made life a horror for many women in his community, lashing out against those who he thought were weaker than him. Valiant and caring individuals along the way did try to intervene before he harmed others. It was not enough to save him or those near him.
As we leave more and more people behind, incidents like Virgina Tech will continue. They are individually random, but assuredly predictable. They should remind us that "An injury to one" can too easily become "an injury to all."