Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Civil Trial Regarding Tacoma Port Protests Begins

A civil lawsuit filed by six people who participated in antiwar protests at the Port of Tacoma in 2007 against police officials finally began being heard in US District Court in Tacoma Jan. 7.

In their lawsuit, the protestors allege their rights were violated via a policy banning protesters from bringing bags or backpacks into certain port areas. Although police contended the ban was a security measure aimed at curtailing the smuggling of weapons or other contraband into the area, ACLU of Washington, which is providing legal counsel to the plaintiffs, maintains the ban was meant to limit their access to food, water and medications.

“Plaintiffs challenge the city’s arbitrary policy of prohibiting demonstrators carrying backpacks or large containers from entering into fenced-off designated protest zones,” the lawsuit reads in part.

The protests took place over 12 days in March 2007, with the protestors opposing the US Army shipping of military vehicles to Iraq through the Port of Tacoma for the fourth Stryker Brigade. More than 30 people were arrested over the course of the 12 days, including protesters who defied the backpack ban.

The plaintiffs are seeking to overturn the ban and to receive unspecified compensation for “damages.” The trial’s expected to last about three weeks.