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U.S. | Anti-War

Port Militaization Resistance group successful in Olympia, sets sights on Tacoma
by Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance
Sunday Mar 4th, 2007 10:09 PM
Olympia Port Militarization Resistance has successfully blocked Iraq bound military shipments through the Port of Olympia. Now it’s offering support for Tacoma activists trying to replicate Olympia’s success.
Olympia, WA, March 5, 2007 –Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (OlyPMR), a local grassroots organization, is claiming victory in its campaign to close the Port of Olympia to military shipment bound for Iraq as part of President Bush’s escalation of the conflict.

The decision by the US army to not use the Port of Olympia to ship the 4th Brigade, 2nd Division Stryker unit’s equipment to Iraq is a clear recognition that choosing to do so would have been a logistical and public relations disaster for the Port of Olympia and the Ft. Lewis based Stryker group.

“This is a tremendous victory in the campaign to end our community’s participation in the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq,” said TJ Johnson, an Olympia City Councilman who has helped spearhead the campaign. He added that “our success in Olympia can serve as powerful model and beacon of hope for other communities seeking to take direct action to end their community’s participation.”

The Army’s decision to not risk the consequences of shipping the Stryker unit through Olympia forced it to move equipment through the Port of Tacoma. Military equipment began arriving at the Port of Tacoma around 10:30 pm on March 2, and additional equipment arrived late in the evening on March 3 and 4.

“The fact that they had to choose a different, less accessible port and then sneak the equipment in under cover of darkness shows just how little public support there is for the ongoing quagmire in Iraq” said Wes Hamilton, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Olympia chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Since Saturday, members of OlyPMR have joined activists from throughout Western Washington in a vigil at the Port of Tacoma. OlyPMR has also been strategizing with members of Tacoma Port Militarization Resistance (Tacoma PMR) on ways to prevent the equipment from being loaded onto a transport ship bound for Iraq, including the use of non-violent civil disobedience.

The ship expected to transport the equipment is scheduled to begin loading later this week.

Leah Coakley, a recent UPS graduate and a member of Tacoma PMR said that "Fearing OlyPMR, hundreds of Strykers were pushed back to the Port of Tacoma, assuming our complicity but soon realizing the need for huddles of riot police in an attempt to control the crowd of objectors. Our oppressors must realize that Tacoma does not consent. We will not serve as a pitstop for the war machine."

Tacoma PMR plans a vigil on Monday, March 5 from 4-6pm on the Pacific Highway I-5 overpass in Tacoma. A larger rally is planned at the Federal Courthouse on Pacific Ave at noon on Tuesday, March 6. Following the rally, there will be a meeting to plan additional events at 2:30pm in the Main Student Center at the University of Puget Sound.

According to Tom McCarthy, a member of Tacoma PMR, "We believe actions like these are vital ways to support our troops. An article in last week's Tacoma paper stated that the Pentagon moved up this Stryker brigade's departure by one month, shortchanging these troops on the desert training that had long been planned for them. Sending soldiers into an escalation without proper training is just one more way in which the military isn't giving our troops what they need -- in Iraq, or at home."

In addition to the activities in Tacoma, OlyPMR will be conducting the second of two non-violent civil disobedience trainings on March 8 and 9. The March 8 training will take place at United Methodist Church, 1224 Legion Way SE. The March 9 training will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 2200 East End St NW. Both trainings will be from 5:30-8:30pm.

OlyPMR is endorsed by the Veterans for Peace #109 (Rachel Corrie Chapter), Olympia Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Green Party of South Puget Sound, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, Students for a Democratic Society, Olympia Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee.

Tacoma PMR includes members from United for Peace Pierce County, and Students for a Democratic Society.