So, the ship that the stryker group has been loading into has left. The action in Olympia surrounding this was a 10 day attempt to blockade the vehicles as they moved through Olympia to the Port.
I had the opportunity to participate in the send-off event as the ship left the Port. I took some pictures of the “die-in” as the ship left the Port, which was a symbolic enactment of the deaths that would occur because of the ship’s departure and also sympathetically a show of how we all die a little when others suffer or die.
There were a large number of press taking pictures and doing interviews, including the Olympian. I was amused by the frantic was that the photographers rushed to anything that held even the slightest promise of direct action by the protestors or the guards. The guards consisted of, at least, Port security, Coast Guard and County Sheriffs. And, I’m sure at least one of the idling vehicles there was some form of other national security team.
The guards all had automatic weapons, and the two Coast Guard boats in the water each had two high caliber machine guns, one at each end. The show of force was not completely absurd, but palpable. There was a mixture of sorrow and humour among the protestors, and I’m pretty certain that I caught a smile or two from the guards. Whether that was laughing with or at us, I cannot say.
I was recognized by one of the others, who is a professor at Evergreen, who said some kind words to me about my failed run for City Council, including that I should give a call if I run again some day. It was nice to hear those kind words.
As public as this protest was, and it reached national news, including CNN, among others; there are also other facets of the protest that will likely never reach the public.
For example, there was a struggle among co-workers at a coffee roaster located next to the Port of Olympia entrance. This is a tale of two workers. The first worker is a young, recent college graduate that needs the work, and would like a future with the company in other ways than scooping roasted beans. The second is a grandmother that doesn’t want to learn anything she doesn’t have to learn, and wants only to do the work she is willing to understand, especially avoiding special projects and anything to do with computers. Interestingly, both of the workers are transplants from the same mid-western state, just strikingly different in every other way.
The first saw the protestors standing in the cold and rain, and knowing that she was allowed to take coffee home, and to use hot pots from work for private events, decided to, on her break, take coffee out to warm the protestors. She made sure to take off her company apron, and go on her break. She made sure that she told the protestors that she was not acting as a representative of the company, and that she was acting on her own, on her break. Over the days, she also suffered, silently, comments made by some customers, such as, “Those people look like something you’d scrape off your shoe,” or, with derision, “They all look like Evergreen students to me!” She was conscious of her work environment, and the need to keep her private life and activities separated from her work.
The second, seeing the first take coffee out to the protestors, told managers that the first was stealing coffee to give out. Not talking to the first at all, but going sneakily to tell lies to their manager, the second claimed the first was being unethical. When a third worker also took coffee out on a break, making clear that it was also this third’s personal act and not that of the company, the second worker banged on the window from the inside and made faces at the third as she walked to the protestors outside. The second worker then refused to give the third a promised ride home, claiming that she didn’t trust the third and didn’t want that person in her car. This second worker was also seen at closing time allowing one more person through the door, but, then, at the same moment refusing service to two of the protestors that were also trying to come in behind the previous. To the protestors, while on the clock, this second worker refused service to a specific kind of customer, saying that the place was closed.
This is only one example of the kind of unseen and unheard battles that happen in this city.