The Politics Blog

Protesters, some donning masks, gather at Capitol Campus to air grievances

OlympianNovember 5, 2013 

About 75 to 100 protesters marched to the state Capitol in Olympia on Tuesday, joining other “Anonymous” demonstrations around the world. The protesters, who gathered at the state’s Winged Victory statue, targeted a long list of grievances including government spying, taxes and corporate influence.

Dubbed the “Million Mask March,” the event was described by local sponsors as nonviolent, and it coincided with what the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom has described as “mass demonstrations in 477 locations around the world” by people “aligned with the hacktivist movement Anonymous.” 

“I’m proud to be a human but I’m ashamed to be an American,” one protester said into a bullhorn. Some of those gathered wore masks.

State officials at the Department of Enterprise Services issued a permit last week for the gathering, and sponsors had estimated they might bring as many as 250 people.

Elizabeth Cisco of Lacey requested the permit, writing in her application: “Anonymous is a group dedicated to social change and non-violence. Many of us wear masks as they participate in our activities. Many do not.”

A walk through the domed Legislative Building before the protest revealed that more than a dozen uniformed State Patrol troopers were taking up positions at doorways and key corridors inside the building. 

But patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said authorities were expecting a nonviolent event. “We’re very hopeful that it will be an enthusiastic statement of people’s political opinions that will remain peaceful,’’ Calkins said.

Nov. 5 is Guy Fawkes Day in Britain, celebrating the failed attempt in 1605 to blow up the Parliament in London, and many of the masked protesters wore white Guy Fawkes masks. In a notice sent to Northwest newspapers, activist Melvin Neifert wrote: “We are Anonymous! We are legion! We do not forgive! We do not forget! Expect us!” 

Organizers planned to conclude their protest with a vigil at dusk.

“This country is out of control,” said one protester, who gave his name as Brian and said he lives in Rainier. He said complained that the government mistreats people and said police can “slam” suspects against vehicles. He also said the Olympia city court does not provide enough room for defendants and their attorneys to speak privately. 

“I’ve been reading a lot of Thomas Jefferson lately. This country is not what he envisioned,” Brian said.

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