Nov 17, 2007

truancy for peace

I've been mostly too busy to comment on recent port protest nonsense, which has involved opportunistic rabble-rousing by anarchists and hooligans, disrupting what should have been a nonviolent--if starry-eyed and, in the grand scheme, useless--effort to block the return of war materiel to Fort Lewis.

Yesterday, several hundred high school and college students (and a smattering of Lincoln Elementary tykes, apparently) marched in Olympia in opposition to the war in Iraq. It was part of a larger, and entirely peaceful, effort, and a welcome change. I first heard about it from a returning student who apologized for missing class. "Don't be sorry," said a nearby teacher. "Just be ready for the consequences."

Exactly. I respect the decision of students who choose to walk out for a cause, but I still have to mark them absent unexcused. As Ben Folds once put it, "It's no fun to be The Man."

Update: Today's march was peaceful, too.
About 350 people marched through downtown Olympia this afternoon to protest the war in Iraq and show support for demonstrators who for 11 days protested and tried to prevent shipments of military equipment from the Port of Olympia.
Also: photos from Friday's march. Look closely for MT McLaughlin, who lurks in a couple shots. [via Anne Fischel]

Update II: Rob Richards notes that certain Olympian photos of the port protests put some of the police response in a pretty bad light. His words:
I wanted to post a few photos from the Olympian that depict what I feel to be overly aggressive actions by the police. I don't want to start a huge argument, I want this to be a conversation about alternative responses the police could use. I realize that we can't get the whole story from just the photos, but let's just try not to turn this into a speculation-fest.
Having heard and read multiple accounts, and having seen multiple videos and photos, I'd use "overly aggressive" to describe the OPD's tactics, too.


M.T. McLaughlin said...

Walking from SPSCC to the capitol building is not fun, but it was a good experience. I don't know much about the issues surrounding the port protest, but the speakers during yesterday's protest were all pretty upset about it. Apparently they were just protesting peacefully and the cops sort of came out of nowhere and beat the crap out of them. That's what I got from the story. Sounds just a little questionable.

Jim Anderson said...

I saw several of the videos. There are points where the police clearly cross the line--pepper spray, in particular, needs to be removed from the OPD's arsenal, since it's a degrading and indiscriminate crowd control method--but the "F--- the pigs" attitude and aggressive behavior of some of the protesters does not sit well with me, either.

I am glad to see the more reasonable side coming on strong these last couple days.

M.T. McLaughlin said...

Yeah, a fourteen-year-old girl stood in front of the group and said she got pepper-sprayed for nothing. I'm sure she was telling the truth. Something like that can definitely happen in a sticky situation. I really don't like the anti-law enforcement attitude though. I think people shouldn't just hate all cops. Like all things, it's relative.