Community members critical of police actions

The OlympianNovember 14, 2007 

— About a dozen people expressed their opinions at Tuesday's Olympia City Council meeting about the police response to Port of Olympia protests, and most criticized the police actions.

Several people said that arrests were a common response to civil disobedience, but that the police went too far in using tactics that included pepper spray and the use of batons to move people from the street. Others criticized the protesters' tactics.

Ken Schwilk of Olympia said police removed protesters' goggles and sprayed them in the eyes.

"I am very disappointed; it's a tragedy what occurred. ... These are nonviolent people. They are not attackers," he said.

Sandy Mayes of Olympia characterized police behavior as "excessive in the extreme" and said she is alarmed that young people are "taking the brunt of the abuse."

Mayes, who also criticized police actions while attending an Olympia port commission meeting earlier Tuesday, added that she thinks police seem intent on oppressing dissenting opinions.

"As public opinion has grown against the occupation, the police tactics have become more aggressive," she said.

Anna-Marie Murano, a member of the group that is coordinating the protests, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, said police hit her in the chest last week, and she has had leg and neck pain since. She also said many of the protesters wanted to speak at the council meeting but feared being recognized and targeted.

"There are people being followed around by citizens threatening them. They have nobody to call to protect them," she said.

Three people spoke in support of police.

"From what I observed ... they were trying to keep control without being disrespectful or being abusive," said Tom Allen of Olympia.

Jill Wolf added that although she is "strongly against the war in Iraq," she disagrees with protesters' tactics. She said protesters were warned before they were pepper-sprayed and called them "common criminals."

"I would suggest that today's protesters are making Olympia look ridiculous while wasting thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money," she said.

Several people were in line to talk but couldn't because of time constraints.

Mayor Mark Foutch said the city plans to review police response and whether officers followed department standards and the law.

Councilman Doug Mah urged all parties to be mindful of their actions as the movement of military cargo continues this week.

"It's fair to say that all sides are on notice, whether you're a protester or a police officer. ... I ask that we be respectful of everyone," he said.

Diane Huber is a reporter for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-357-0204 or dhuber@theolympian.com.

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service