The News Tribune logo

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wally, Jeff and Alicia's Excellent Protest

Yesterday, while perusing the news, I saw that there was going to be an anti-war protest at 8 PM at the corner of "D" and Puyallup streets near downtown. So I loaded up my camera and headed down the hill to take a look see. I was more curious than anything else. I've never seen one of these things close up before.

I got there about ten after eight. I drove around the area a few moments looking because no one was there. I was just about to head back home, when I spotted three people heading for the corner across from Alfred's Cafe with a couple "stop the war" signs. Cool! There was going to be a protest after all!

So I parked my car in a parking lot down the street and waited to see if anyone else showed up. After about ten minutes, it looked like it was just going to be these three people. I decided then, that maybe these guys would talk to me a bit. Obviously, I didn't look like I belonged. I'm 55 and gray, with a haircut straight out of the old AFR 35-10 (You old timer USAF vets will remember that) and a bit of a paunch. I was wearing a red "Dragon's Breath Ale" tee shirt I bought in Kingston, Ontario, jeans, and black leather walking shoes. I was as out of place as a computer geek at a Luddite convention so my approach had to be two pronged: non-confrontational and sincere enough so that they would feel comfortable talking to someone so obviously out of their sphere.

I decided that I would tell them that I was a participant in the "In Your Neighborhood" blog and I wanted to write about this event (which is a true statement) for the blog. I made it clear that I was not a reporter and I had no connection to the TNT or any other news media for that matter.

After our introductions, I explained my purpose and asked if I could ask a few questions and they agreed.

My first question was simply this: "What do you guys hope to accomplish?"

They were quite candid in their answer. They explained that they knew they weren't going to stop the port from unloading military equipment. Their hope was to make it as costly as possible, there by taking out any profit. They also wanted to tie up city resource and make it too expensive for the city to stop them. I pointed out that I hadn't seen a police car even pass by, let alone parked to watch and Wally sheepishly admitted that this seemed the case, but last night he proudly shared that there were three "cop cars" parked over there, (he pointed west toward pacific) for awhile last night!

They said they also wanted to keep attention on the fact that the war was still going on. Jeff quoted some figure that the networks only devoted an average of187 minutes of coverage to the war this year and that was about two minutes a day. I then asked that since the war was not near as violent these days, that combat deaths were the lowest since the start and that the violence was down by 80 percent or more, there just wasn't that much to report.

"No", Jeff told me, "things were just as bad, the news media just aren't reporting it." and he asked if I was aware that over 48 million Iraqis had been displaced and forced to leave their homes. I was a bit surprised at that number and I told him I didn't think there were even that many Iraqis in the entire country. He assured me there were that many and more. I said, OK and moved on. Let me make it clear that he said 48, not four point eight or four to eight -- I asked. (For the record, in 1997, it is estimated that there was about 22,220,000 Iraqis and the latest figures are in 2008, there are about 28,220,000 people.)

I noticed that Wally was wearing some kind of helmet and I asked him if he was expecting trouble and he laughed and said no, it's just something he wears all the time. He said he sometimes wore hat from his military days and that he was a veteran (I think he was in the Navy), but Alicia was wearing it.

I asked where everyone else was and they said that most everyone was over at exit 119 and it appears that this morning's TNT confirms that.

I was there about ten minutes. Alicia (Aleeseeya) wasn't there for most of it.

I think Wally was there more for the fun and Alicia seemed to be there because Wally was there. Jeff seemed to be the more serious one with all the facts and figures (Even if they were not even close to being accurate). I asked if I could take a quick photo and they said yes. So here are my new friends, in all their revolutionary glory, posing for me.

Left to right: Wally, Alicia and Jeff.

Thanks guys, I had a great time talking to you!



kinsmed said...

Thank you, sir.
Thank you for your service and your impartiality.
I commend them for getting up out of the chair, whether I agree with them or not, and I commend you taking a step that many of us would be disinclined to risk.
Let us all be mindful that all of us are celebrating the freedom that could only have been given at the cost of our fellow veterans. There are still a few countries that do not have this luxury- but one more has it than six years ago.

Stephanie Frieze said...

One of the freedoms that our veterans have fought to protect is the freedom of speech. Thanks for covering this demonstration of it, VW.

VW said...

It was actually a lot of fun.

Was it hard to approach them - yeah it was for me, it was out of my comfort zone.

Obviously we would never see eye to eye on some of these issues, but that's OK. The Bill of Rights is what it is and I take it seriously. I am a very strong advocate of freedom of speech. As long as these kids are peaceful and not breaking any laws, More power to them.


Anonymous said...

Comfort zones are dangerous. Most Protesters love to talk about why they're protesting, and most don't bite.