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By Jeremy Pawloski | The Olympian
OLYMPIA – The Olympia Police Department's response to protests Tuesday and Wednesday in opposition to the unloading of military cargo used in Iraq has cost the city about $10,000, police said.
Olympia Police Commander Tor Bjornstad cautioned that the figure is an estimate. It covers what it cost the department, in manpower and equipment, to respond to protests by Olympia Port Militarization Resistance at the Port of Olympia, he said.
OlyPMR's protests were meant to draw attention to and halt the military convoys from the Port of Olympia to Fort Lewis, members said.
"The lion's share" of the cost was incurred Wednesday night, Bjornstad said. As the rest of the military equipment that was unloaded by the USNS Brittin, which was docked at the port Monday through Thursday, is returned to Fort Lewis in the days to come, "that figure is certainly going to grow," Bjornstad said.
Wednesday night, the protests took a confrontational turn when about 100 demonstrators sat and stood in front of the convoys as they returned equipment used by the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) to Fort Lewis.
Protesters complained of excessive police force used to remove them from the road as they tried to block a convoy, pointing to bruises and, in one case, a split lip, some of them suffered when police struck them with batons.
On Thursday, Bjornstad said that blocking vehicles on a public roadway is illegal, and anyone doing so is subject to arrest.
"Civil disobedience is not a right; it's a decision," Bjornstad said. "The consequence is, you should understand that you're breaking the law and you're subject to arrest. All we're trying to do is keep people out of the streets so the convoys can move by safely."
Thursday night, protesters gathered again at the entrance of the Port of Olympia, but as of 11:15 p.m., no convoys were leaving the port.
"There's nothing coming or going," Olympia Police Sgt. Ken Carlson said earlier in the evening.
Protesters gathered in the cold Thursday night said they'd succeeded in raising awareness about the use of the port for a war they say is immoral and illegal.