Lakewood Militarization Resistance
by Joe La Sac
This week a military ship, the USNS Brittin, was spotted loading equipment off in Tacoma. Resistance groups have mobilized, determined to stop the shipments from reaching their destinations.
This time, however, the Stryker vehicles and equipment are heading for Fort Lewis, coming back from Iraq – instead of the other way around.
The activists have said they oppose the transportation of war materials at “all points in the cycle”, that includes equipment coming home. In 2007, a similar Port of Tacoma protest ended in tear gas and rubber bullets several nights in row. Last November, activists from the Northwest blocked equipment coming from Iraq at the Port of Olympia. The shipment lasted over eight days, and at one point protesters had intersections structurally blocked off, and monitored the flow of traffic to and from the port for 18 hours, until police arrived in full riot gear. Major confrontations lasted for five days after that.
The Port of Tacoma is a bit different; there are lots of entrances and exits and it is difficult for activists to block the shipments at bottleneck points like it is in Olympia. Nonetheless, activists are finding places to block and slow down the equipment at freeway intersections and on-ramps. Last night at Exit 122 in Lakewood, where some convoys were pulling into Fort Lewis, a group of twenty-five protesters awaited instructions from another group at the Port of Tacoma. When the convoys arrived, they marched into the street, sat down, and blocked the path to Fort Lewis.
After ten to fifteen minutes of blocking, police from Tacoma, Dupont, Lakewood, Washington State Patrol, and two Military Police arrived at the exit. Lakewood police, mostly caught off-guard by the incident, watched as protesters chanted “Out of Iraq! Out of Iran!” The Lakewood police eventually arrested three protesters.
In the early morning hours another blockade was setup, this time at Exit 120. I was not at this location. But from what activists have said, Stryker vehicles were blocked from entering the base and had to reroute their path to a different exit to enter the base.