Anti-war protestors block Stryker Brigade deployment

On Friday, March 9, one more anti-Styrker brigade protestor was arrested at the Port of Tacoma. Police claimed he had violated a ban on backpacks that had been imposed by the police. Organizer Tom McCarthy’s pack was loaded with food and first-aid supplies.

Several days earlier, four protestors were arrested at the Port of Tacoma, as the Port Militarization Resistance Movement blockaded 300 Stryker Brigade vehicles from Ft. Lewis about to be deployed to Iraq. Three protestors were arrested early in the morning of Monday, March 5, and one other was arrested before midnight later the same day. Last year dozens of people were arrested at the Port of Olympia in similar actions. Following those protests, the military stopped using the Port of Olympia to deploy the Stryker armed vehicles.

Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) activist and Navy veteran Wally Cuddeford was one of those arrested Monday. He was tasered, dragged across the gravel on his face and charged with third degree assault, as were two others, Jeff Berryhill and Caitlin Esworthy. The charges were later dropped after the protestors put up $1,000 on a $10,000 bail. Cuddeford was also ejected from a Tacoma City Council meeting when he tried to tell elected officials about what had happened to him during his non-violent act of civil disobedience at the Port.

In another incident, an independent videographer was ordered by Tacoma police to stop recording, and was illegally detained in a police car for about half an hour. A video showing the officer’s utter disdain for the first amendment has been posted on YouTube.

On March 9, hundreds of protesters from around the region gathered at the Port to protest the deployment. While earlier protests focused on the transport of the vehicles to the Port awaiting deployment, Friday’s protests targeted the loading the vehicles onto the ship that will transport the vehicles to Iraq. Riot-equpped police flooded the area with klieg lights. At one point, they sprayed some protestors with what appeared to be pepper spray. However, none of the police actions dampened the spirits of the crowd. Protests will continue each night until the ship is loaded or the Strykers are permanently stopped.

Local capitalist media outlets have either ignored the protests, or portrayed the activists as anonymous buffoons and ruffians. However, the actions are based in a thoughtful analysis.

Tacoma Students for a Democratic Society, part of the Port Militarization Resistance, articulated the following rationale on their website:

“These are five reasons we are trying to prevent the escalation of the Iraq War — and keep the 4th Stryker Brigade Home:

“We have a democratic obligation to resist. A majority of Americans and local residents oppose the continued occupation of Iraq, and an even stronger majority opposes President Bush’s escalation. Using the ports of Olympia or Tacoma to ship equipment to Iraq goes against the will of the majority in the US and within our community.

“We have a legal obligation to resist. The occupation of Iraq is a violation of the Constitution and international law. Allowing our publicly financed ports to be used to support the occupation is a violation of Nuremberg Principles and makes our community subject to legal consequences.

“We have a moral, humanitarian obligation to resist. The best way to support the troops is to prevent them from being placed into the midst of a civil war where they have a high risk of killing and being killed.

“We have an economic obligation to resist. Washington state’s share of the cost for the occupation of Iraq now exceeds $10 billion (Source: National Priorities Project). Meanwhile, our state and local governments lack sufficient funds to address basic human needs and maintain essential public infrastructure.

“We have developed and intend to pursue a continuum of actions designed to achieve our goal. Non-violent civil disobedience is part of that continuum.” (

Activist Wally Cuddeford spoke at the Seattle March 18 rally against the Iraq war.

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