Volume 21, Number 2
N.O. Dollar Day
Readers & writers
Journal of 21st Yr
2008: What's New?
Waiting for War
Iraq War Vet
Dylan & Wainwright
Charlie Wilson's War
César cuauhtémoc garcía Hernández
NYT on Kosovo
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Two Weeks That Shook Olympia
For almost two weeks in November 2007, anti-war activists in Olympia, Washington stopped the flow of military weapons and cargo being unloaded from a Navy ship from Iraq. Tactics and actions included sitting in front of trucks, building barricades on the roads where these military vehicles were traveling, and holding anti-war demonstrations and vigils. A total of 600 people took part in these weeks of historic protests.
For three years prior to the November actions, various anti-war, social justice, and student groups— such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)—had been demanding that Olympia officials take a stand against the war by not permitting the Port to be used for military cargo going to Iraq. To make this a reality people put their bodies on the line each time the Port was used. Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment, was, in part, inspired by the 2005 anti-war Port protests. The recent actions in 2007 were the longest, largest, and most successful in actually stopping shipments.
The main group coordinating these actions was the Olympia Port Mili- tarization Resistance (PMR), which was formed in May 2006 when Olympians, outraged by the war, attempted to block the deployment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade from Ft. Lewis, 15 miles north of Olympia. (The troops from this brigade returned to Ft. Lewis in October 2007 minus the 48 soldiers killed in Iraq.)
PMR’s goal was to “end our community’s participation in the illegal occupation of Iraq by stopping the military’s use of the Port of Olympia.” Its strategy included civil disobedience combined with public education about the war and how the military’s use of the Port supports the military occupation.
The November Actions
On November 1, 2007 PMR found out from a City Council member and peace activist that the USS Brittin would be docking in Olympia and unloading its cargo. The PMR position had been to try to block outgoing shipments, but not incoming ones. However, on November 4, the night before the Brittin landed, PMR voted 29 to 14 to stop military equipment from leaving the Port. Most of the 14 who voted against the action believed that blocking incoming military supplies would not be understood or supported by the community. The 29 who voted to stop the shipments argued that military equipment was part of the ongoing war that it was being refurbished and repaired at Ft. Lewis to be used again in Iraq as part of a revolving door of war materials to and from Iraq. In addition, participants at this and the next meeting pointed out that the depleted uranium (DU) on the returning military vehicles was a danger to the Longshore workers unloading the ship, to the soldiers and truckers transporting the equipment, and to Olympia residents.
War resisters assert control at the entrance to the Port of Olympia on November 9—photo by Rob Whitlock, www.olywip.org
On Wednesday, November 7, as Stryker vehicles left the Port, almost 100 people sat or stood in the streets to block the vehicles. The Olympia police cleared the streets using pepper spray and clubs—one participant was hit in the face by a police officer’s club causing his chin to split open.
Over the next few days, divisions between those favoring physical barricades versus those who favored sitting down in front of the trucks diminished as both tactics were seen as having value by most participants. By the third day of actions, more people joined the original organizers in slowing down and/or stopping the weapons and military cargo from leaving the Port. Gender dynamics improved as mutual respect grew through these actions that went on 24 hours a day. Although most of the participants were under 25—and the majority of these were students at Evergreen State College—many older participants gradually joined the protests. There was some tension over definitions of non- violence and over tactics and goals, but anarchists, socialists, peace activists, and black bloc people were able to work together in a functioning alliance.
On Friday, November 9, about 60 people sat down in front of a truck, which kept inching forward, endangering the protesters, until the driver finally stopped. Barricades were erected at the exits and for 17 hours no military equipment moved out of the Port. (This was longer than the street closings at the 1999 WTO meetings in Seattle.) The next day, riot police shot pepper spray into people’s eyes, eventually forcing protesters away from the entrance. Nevertheless, military equipment was temporarily blocked from moving through downtown Olympia and onto the freeway to Ft. Lewis. Olympia resembled an occupied city with police in riot gear and military convoys stopped on the streets. Activists, including key medical and legal support teams from surrounding com- munities, joined the protest. Sixteen people were arrested.
Karin Craft, a witness to police assaults, demonstrates in Olympia—photo by Jim Mayfield, www.olywip.org
On Tuesday, November 13 about 20 people again sat down at the Port entrance, this time blocking military equipment for 13 hours. This means that protests had stopped Stryker vehicles from getting to Ft. Lewis for a minimum of 30 hours—a major action and militant statement.
That evening about 200 people gathered at the Port to resist. In the midst of this action, a GI from Ft. Lewis, who was supposed to be transporting military vehicles to the fort, walked out of the Port, saying he was against the war and was refusing to transport the war equipment. This powerful act of resistance was celebrated as a victory for PMR and the anti-war movement as a whole.
Also, on the evening of November 13, 38 women sat down at the Port entrance and refused to move, even when riot police told them they would be pepper sprayed. The women were arrested and held for seven hours.
Around 10:00 PM, a large convoy of Stryker vehicles left the Port as the police cleared the roads by shooting rubber bullets and pepper spray at protesters. Some of the military vehicles were delayed when protesters hastily constructed barricades along the route.
By 1:30 AM Wednesday, November 14, the resistance slowed. Vigils continued as most, but not all, of the military equipment left the Port. The two weeks of actions ended with a march of more than 400 in support of the Port resistance. From November 7 to 15, 63 people were arrested and many more were hit by pepper spray.
The city’s only mainstream newspaper, the Olympian, wrote two major editorials on November 15, calling the protesters “whiners” for complaining about police behavior and urging that protesters be prosecuted and fined. The Olympian focused on the small amount of property damage and disruption of traffic in condemning the actions. There were many letters to the editor praising the protests, some comparing them to the Boston Tea Party as an example of worthwhile civil disobedience. However, the majority of letters to the editor strongly criticized the Port blockade, claiming that anti-war behavior should be limited to voting for anti-war candidates and protests that were non-disruptive and legal. That the mainstream media were critical and misrepresented the actions came as no surprise. But the letters indicated that we needed to explain face to face why we were engaging in civil disobedience and incorporate more people before, during, and after the actions.
For the most part, barricades and human blockades were aimed only at military vehicles, e.g., non-military cargo was let through. Although residents were occasionally inconvenienced, it was important that this not be the aim of an action, that “no business as usual” does not mean disrupting people’s lives unless that cannot be avoided. Protesters decided not to throw anything at the police even when attacked and this was followed with a few exceptions that occurred only in response to police violence.
Although there were and are ongoing tensions in discussing and acting on effective actions, the majority of participants supported a diversity of tactics—from vigils to forums to rallies to legal demonstrations to civil disobedience.
An unresolved question that surfaced was how groups who have significant differences around ideology, strategy, and tactics can work together in an action such as this one. The main organizing group was PMR, which was committed to non- violence. During the actions, there were debates over what is non-violence and what tactics are strategic. For example, PMR members were strongly against using the personal property of non-participants to block military vehicles. Others were less so.
If each group (or individual) does what it thinks is best and ignores another group’s actions, it affects all of us and our movement. There may be some actions that jeopardize people’s safety in ways that they do not want or that discredit the actions of the majority. In this case, such actions should be criticized and we should try to stop them from occurring—e.g., preventing breaking windows of small locally owned businesses. In other words, there should be a diversity of tactics within and between groups, but not anything goes.
Many SDS members wanted a strategy that raised the economic costs of the militarization of the Port and of sending war supplies through Olympia—police costs, transportation costs, port security, etc. These costs have, in fact, been quite large. I believe instead that our aim should be to raise the social (and political) cost of waging this war—to make the war less legitimate by building stronger social movements with more popular support that challenge not only the war, but also expose as increasingly illegitimate those in power and the unjust economic system behind them. This should contribute towards building growing movements for a fundamentally different society.
Did the “Two Weeks that Shook Olympia” help build a stronger anti-war movement in Olympia and did it raise the social costs of waging this brutal war and occupation of Iraq? It is hard to assess this. Most likely the majority of the public did not support it, which means more outreach needed to be done. PMR also needed to make it easier for people to be involved who were not already on listservs. In light of these critiques, PMR is continuing to meet to reflect on what happened and to plan further education, action, and outreach.
It is very likely the military will not use the Port of Olympia again for military shipments. This would be a victory. A bigger victory and ongoing task is for PMR to educate others about how Olympia is being militarized—e.g., by challenging military recruiters in the schools and the deployment of the National Guard. It also means working with the Longshore Workers Union, communities in Washington, and with military resisters to raise the social cost of this war until it is impossible to wage.
A march through Olympia’s streets on November 17—photo by Elliot Stoller, www.olywip.org
Peter Bohmer has been an activist in movements for radical social change since 1967. He currently teaches political economy at Evergreen State College.
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AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
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MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
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MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
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BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
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LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
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WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
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SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
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WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.