Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jury Rules Against Tacoma Port Demonstrators

After a two-week trial, a federal jury has found that police did not violate protestors’ constitutional rights when enforcing a ban on backpacks during 12 days of protests at the Port of Tacoma in 2007.
The six man, six woman jury only needed to deliberate for a few hours before issuing its ruling on Jan. 23.

Six participants in antiwar protests at the port had filed the civil lawsuit, which began being heard in US District Court in Tacoma Jan. 7. The protestors were suing police officials who had instituted and enforced the ban.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs had alleged their rights were violated via a policy banning protesters from bringing bags or backpacks into certain port areas. ACLU of Washington, which provided legal counsel to the plaintiffs, maintained the ban was meant to limit the protestors’ access to food, water and medications, but law enforcement successfully argued that the ban was a security measure aimed at curtailing the smuggling of weapons or other contraband into the port area.

The protests took place 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 and ACLU are still considering whether to appeal the jury’s decision, according to ACLU spokesman Doug Honig.