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Charges still possible in Johnson's arrest

Olympia City Councilman TJ Johnson and others still could be charged for their actions during recent protests of military shipments at the Port of Tacoma.

Tacoma assistant city attorney Jean Hayes said Friday that the reason 11 protesters were charged Thursday in Tacoma Municipal Court but Johnson and 11 others were not was because of "insufficient information." On Thursday, court officials would not comment on the reason.

Hayes said information to charge the protesters Thursday came from several police agencies, and prosecutors did not have all the reports, even four days after the incident.

"All I know is we only charge those people that there was sufficient information on the reports that we have," she said.

Protesters had questioned why three people were charged for doing the same thing as those who weren't charged: stepping across a police line one by one to deliver a "citizens injunction" to police.

Eight other protesters were arrested after bringing a bag or backpack into a no-backpack zone designated by Tacoma police. Johnson said there was no physical barrier marking the zone, and protesters said the U.S. Constitution allowed them to carry the packs into the zone.

The 11 were charged with refusing to obey a flagman, a misdemeanor.

Hayes said she could not explain why a prosecutor Thursday refused to give a reporter his name or release the names of those charged and not charged. She said the prosecutor was busy, and it wasn't his responsibility to hand over the names. When asked if the office could produce a list of protesters charged in the future in municipal court, Hayes said that was not possible.

On Sunday, Tacoma police declined to identify those arrested. With the police and the courts not releasing names, Hayes could not tell a reporter how to obtain the names.

"That's not my problem," she said.

The Olympian obtained the names of those charged from Johnson and Lawrence Hildes, the lawyer representing the protesters.

Johnson said he thinks some of the protesters aren't being charged as a way to intimidate them and decrease the likelihood that they'll protest in the future.

"If they have insufficient information to charge the others, what is the sufficient information they have for those they are charging?" he asked. "I find the whole thing continues to be bizarre."

Matt Batcheldor covers the city of Olympia for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-704-6869 or mbatcheldor@theolympian.com.

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