A new breed of struggle is flowering in the Northwest anti-war movement. Its aim: to stop public ports from being used for export of war materials. Activists in
This development isn’t happening in a vacuum. A product of anger over congressional inaction on the war and repulsion at the militarization of
A statement from the Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) puts it this way: “The weapons shipments, and the use of our public property to prolong and supply the war in
The first action took place last year in
In 2007, activists declared victory when the Army announced it was going elsewhere. The new location turned out to be
A cause catches fire
Campaign stalwart Molly Gibbs offers insight into the shift in thinking of those involved. Gibbs, who works in high schools to counter military recruitment efforts, is no newcomer to politics. On the war, she has emailed, lobbied and written letters to congressional representatives like Adam Smith, she tells the FS, “until I’m blue in the face.”
But this year,
In January, she helped organize a tribunal to publicize his case. She then left for
From that experience, she concluded that a different strategy was needed. “I’m done dealing with my congressional representatives,” she says. “It is in our hands. We have to do something.”
Opportunity came in March, when the military moved its port operations to
On March 10, police used violence to break their lines, firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. Protesters refused to back down, and Gibbs was among several people arrested for stepping over police lines to deliver a “Citizens’ Injunction to Halt the Shipment of Military Material to
The Army ship sailed, but when the dust had cleared,
While that question lingered, the military moved its shipping operations to
Military officials cordoned off neighborhood streets and called in police reinforcements from across the region. The military racked up another huge bill and angered local residents, who resented seeing their town become an armed camp.
Sparked by these examples, similar efforts and solidarity actions are spreading. In March, 100 students occupied a military recruitment office in
Many campaigners have been charged with crimes. In the Northwest, a mistrial was declared on March 29 in the case of the “Oly 22,” who were arrested in 2006. Public support is being mobilized now for those arrested in
Grow the resistance!
How strongly this movement will take root is uncertain. Those who are part of it harbor no illusions about the challenges ahead. The Army is operating in greater secrecy, keeping protesters on their toes. There are court battles ahead, and police violence to face. Gibbs mentions the need for more community training, strategy development, and reinforcements.
However, she is motivated by knowing one thing for certain: as long as the war continues, “the death and destruction is only going to get worse.”