As you probably already know, there were clashes between protesters and officers from the Washington State Patrol on Nov. 28th at the state capitol in Olympia.
Governor Gregoire has called a special session of the state legislature to address major budget cuts.
The demonstrations were peaceful but police used tasers and attacked several people who tried to enter the capitol building, and they used more tasers when people tried to block a commandeered Intercity Transit bus that was taking protesters to jail.
I was arrested along with 38 other protesters. I was physically removed from the capitol by police after several hundred of us refused to leave the building.
NOTE: By the way, the corporate media got a lot of the story wrong and I don’t think they are aware of some of the circumstances which led to assaults by police on demonstrators. I've seen no reports of what happened when protesters tried to block a police commandeered bus carrying arrested demonstrators to jail. That was another example of police using physical force and using tasers on demonstrators at the capitol campus.
Following these URL news links covering the Olympia demonstrations on Nov 28th is a statement from me about my arrest at the capitol protests.
To substantiate my assertion that freedom of the press was violated by my arrest, I have included some articles as an example of my journalism to establish that I am a member of the alternative press and a public radio news broadcaster.
I've worked as a reporter for Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Radio Network, and I've served as a news host and reporter for KBCS.
Here’s my Huffington post piece on the Nov. 28th protests:
You can also find my other articles about Occupy Seattle and the Occupy Wall Street movement on Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Crosscut:
On November 28th protesters had demanded a meeting with Governor Christine Gregoire to express their views about the state budget cuts which many believe are endangering the public's health and safety, but police blocked anyone from entering her office, including myself. After that, we staged a sit-in and refused to leave the state capitol building as a protest.
I was arrested while wearing my press pass because I refused to leave the state capitol building. I did two updates as a reporter for national radio programs that day. Although there were at least one hundred protesters inside the building at the time (including corporate media journalists) police only arrested those of us who were gathered where folks were chanting and singing. I announced to police that I was a journalist a few minutes before my arrest. My press pass was clearly visible.
In fact, I am a member of the media group for Occupy Seattle, but I'm also an independent journalist covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and reporting for various alternative political news websites.
On Nov. 28th I was physically carried out of the state capitol rotunda by four Washington State Patrol officers. I suffered a few injuries from the protests. Other demonstrators tried to lock arms and legs with me at one point to stop my arrest but the Lieutenant in charge ordered the other officers to drag me away from the rotunda against my will. Although I refused to cooperate with their order to leave, I did not resist arrest. The state patrol troopers carried me by my arms and legs out of the capitol rotunda.
According to the “no trespass order” (which I refused to sign), I am not allowed to be on the state capitol campus for 30 days - which means they are trying to keep me away from the protests happening during this month’s special legislative session. The state capitol campus and the surrounding parks are public property but I am now being told I am not allowed to attend any of the protests or even to visit the Occupy Olympia camp for the next month. I was told that if I am observed by police in any of these areas I will be arrested and charged with trespass. This prohibition would make it impossible for me to cover the ongoing protests as a journalist, or to participate as a demonstrator.
I would like to stress here that I have never been charged with or suspected of committing any violent act, so there is clearly no reason to believe that I represent a public danger to anyone or to any property at the locations from which I have been banned. Therefore, what remains is simply a repression of my political and journalistic freedom of speech.
The capitol campus property includes the only downtown city park in Olympia - Sylvester Park. Heritage Park is also owned by the state. This park completely surrounds Capitol Lake - a substantial portion of the downtown Olympia area. This is also the park where Occupy Olympia has set up their camp. All of these areas are now supposedly off limits to me a "no protest zone".
I refused to give my name or sign the document police gave to me because I challenge the legality of these “no trespass orders”. I believe that signing such a document under duress without legal counsel is in fact illegal and will not stand up in any court. I refuse to allow my First Amendment rights to be violated. No court has ordered me to stay away from the state capitol. This is an arbitrary decision made by a law enforcement agency and the order was not issued by any judicial body.
I will not stop protesting at the state capitol in Olympia and I am consulting an attorney to fight the “no trespass order”. I believe this kind of tactic by law enforcement is designed to do only one thing - keep people from attending the protests, which is a direct violation of our Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. I plan to challenge my arrest and the restrictions placed upon me in order to stop this practice by law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. The same policy was practiced by police during our five day sit-in protests at the state capitol in April. In most cases, police do not even refer to these types of actions as an arrest, even though they have physically dragged people away from protests and detained them, photographed them, etc.
If I WAS GUILTY OF A CRIME I SHOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME. Instead, I was physically removed from the state capitol building by police against my will and I have been banned from attending the protests by the Washington State Patrol. I am being punished for exercising my fundamental right to peaceful protest. The restrictions placed upon me will also directly interfere with my work as a journalist.
NOTE: In addition, the protesters who were pushed and shoved to the ground by police when they tried to block a the bus on Nov. 28th were not charged with any crime. A few of these folks were also tased by police. The demonstrators in this case were practicing non-violent civil disobedience.
This scenario is similar to cases in Seattle where police have used pepper spray and other kinds of “pain techniques” (their term) on protesters like Dorli Rainey without pressing any charges. This kind of mistreatment and torture of peaceful protesters is a form of extra judicial punishment practiced by law enforcement agencies.
It is the courts who are authorized to determine guilt or innocence and to determine the proper punitive measures against the accused – not the police!
We were there in Olympia to send a message to the governor and to our state legislators that we oppose any more state budget cuts to health, education and welfare programs. We were there to stage non-violent protests in the public interest. No vandalism occurred and no property was damaged at the state capitol.
People are suffering and may in fact die because of these decisions to cut vital social service programs by state legislators. Thousands of disabled and drug addicted state residents have had their only source of public assistance cut. Funding for home healthcare workers is being slashed. Money for education and teachers is also being cut.
3,000 people from Occupy Seattle, labor unions, economic justice and community groups gathered at the state capitol on November 28th to say “tax the rich!” and "stop making the poor and middle class pay for the deficit!" By some estimates there are up to 8 billion dollars in lost revenue in the state of Washington due to tax loopholes for major corporations and the wealthiest residents of the state.
I am very proud of the folks who continue to gather at the state capitol in Olympia to fight the budget cuts. It’s very important right now for Occupy Wall Street protesters and their allies to directly challenge our government through acts of non-violent civil disobedience. We must speak truth to power whenever we have that opportunity!
The First Amendment is our rallying cry. Power will not give up power without a struggle. It is obvious that the financial and government systems in the US will not reform themselves. The changes that we need to create a more just society will have to come from the people who have been left behind by a political and financial system that only benefits the wealthy.
We must exercise our rights to freedom of speech and assembly whenever necessary to stop the rampant corruption, greed and injustice in our society.
I was one of the people who joined with the protesters at a five day sit-in at the state capitol for five days in April in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. We brought in sleeping bags and camped out in the building until we were removed by the Washington State Patrol and the Olympia Police Department by order of Governor Chrstine Gregoire. Six months later, on November 28th, the governor decided that she must stop the occupation on day one. It is clear that the government is now becoming less tolerant of political dissent at the Washington state capitol, and yet protests groups are planning to continue their demonstrations throughout this special legislative session.
So, phase two of the protests has now begun. Demonstrations will continue in Olympia this week with major convergences on Dec. 1st and Dec. 3rd. I plan to be there protesting peacefully, even under this current threat of arrest by police for “trespassing” on public property. The state capitol campus is the people’s house and I will not allow the state to ban me from future protests. I will continue to use my voice and my journalism to participate in and to document the demonstrations at the state capitol and in Seattle, despite acts of political repression.