May 31, 2006

The war at home

I'm possibly going to have an interesting time being the on-call public defender this week.

From today's Olympian: Port protests escalate - 22 arrests made in demonstrations against military cargo ship.

Twenty-two people were arrested Tuesday in one of the most volatile confrontations yet between anti-war activists and police officers guarding a military cargo ship docked at the Port of Olympia. The confrontations resulted in the most arrests in a single day since the demonstrations began a week ago against the Iraq-bound military shipments leaving from the port...

OlyBlog has been on top of events at the port. For more pro-protest perspectives, see "Olympia Resists Militarization of Our Port" (for "Olympia" read "part of Olympia"). Plenty of photos at either site. You might also hear live updates from the masked kids on the front lines streaming at Oly's unlicensed pirate radio station, Free Radio Olympia, where last night I was informed that the people pulling on the fences were only trying nonviolently to get into the port so they could inspect the shipments.

Also this weekend, the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association will be in town having its annual conference at The Evergreen State College. Labor studies are reliably interesting. One especially animated panel discussion should be "'Global Wars and Local Ports: the Iraq War and the Port of Olympia,' Larry Mosqueda, member of the faculty at Evergreen, and members of ILWU Local 47." Animated, as Local 47, the Olympia local of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, seems to have come out against the protests:

Members of Operation Support Our Troops joined workers loading the USNS Pomeroy for a barbecue lunch Tuesday to show support for the shipment of equipment to Iraq... Local 47 paid for the lunch.

It's fascinating to watch these battles and cleavages play out among progressive labor, enlisted men and women, law enforcement, and the protesters. If I had to choose a spokesman who comes closest to voicing my feelings, I'd probably go with this OlyBlog commenter:

I will not say that I am for or against the war in Iraq. What I will say is that I shall soon find my boots on the desert sands of that far off place. I am a Medic. I joined the Army to heal... I heard about your protest today at the port and it angered me. Not because you were protesting, or what you were protesting, but because the only thing you succeeded in was giving me and my fellow soldiers a hard time and making us have less time with our families. We are operators not policy makers. We volunteered to do a job. That job is handed down to us by a civilian government according to the constitution. What I think about the war in Iraq is totally irrelevant. What anyone in this Stryker Brigade, even its commander thinks about it is irrelevant. We are soldiers and we go where the civilian leadership needs us. If you want this to stop, talk to them, not us. As I said, we are not policy makers... We are given a mission and we prosecute it to the best of our abilities. Don't hassle the soldiers, hassle Congress and the White House.

Updates: from KOMO, Daily Kos, By The Bayou, and Res Ipsa. Oh, and weighing in on the Port of Olympia activity, Michelle Malkin has come out strongly against "coddling" arrestees and for pepper spray in the face (no link here - you find it).

Here's another "pro" post, from My Left Wing, with a commenter wistfully asking us to "imagine what a coordinated longshoreman's strike in the port would do." What the commenter imagines is just the opposite of the Olympia union local's pro-shipments stance:

...(T)he International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opposes the war with Iraq but supports the shipping of military supplies and the ongoing contract of the port with the military. These are livable wage jobs for their members in a small port... (T)he ILWU made it clear that they would continue to load the ships.

And so the historic rift between Labor and Left gets replayed.

It's quieter down at the harbor this early Wednesday evening - the Pomeroy is about to cast off.

Update 06/01/06: Ship leaves Olympia amid protesters' finale