Donations are being sought here to help replace that which was, at the ‘Anarchists Convergence‘, destroyed/stolen in a Strong (A)rm Robbery-Assault on this reporter attempting to cover a public event involving Pacific NW region (A)narchists at The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia on 4-20-13. You can help by donating to the cause of 1st Amendment principles, a free press, and not allowing thugs/petty traitors to succeed in their efforts to bully/assault photojournalists. Any amount would be appreciated as a vote for the public’s right to a free press covering what is going on in its public spaces/venues.
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It was a sunny Saturday morning unusually warm for the Pacific NW. Evergreen’s Sabot Infoshop and a loose coalition of regional (A)narchists had been advertising the workshops scheduled for 4-20-13 & 4-21-13 for several weeks, billing them as free, open to the public, and handicap accessible. No one questioned the paradoxical utilization of a State owned college campus as the venue for a group (Sabot Infoshop in tandem w/SDS @ TESC) trumpeting its desire to ‘smash the state’, eliminate all laws, while basking in the largess of that very same government.
The anti-state, anti-capitalist workshops scheduled over the course of the next 2 days sounded interesting if controversial. Some invited open discussion, others promoted beefing up personal computer security to defeat increased state surveillance or a dissertation on why insurrection and ‘direct action’ (propert distruction, et al) attacking the state and/or corporate interests is ‘necessary’. Still, TESC was conceived as a non-violent public forum to discuss, debate, and exchange opposing views. The parking lot adjacent to the Seminar II complex (Building ‘C’, 3rd floor) appeared nearly full. A couple of attendees helped the reporter locate the space where the presentations would be held over the weekend. Armed only with his camera and an abiding commitment to 1st Amendment principles guaranteeing the public’s right to know about such gatherings in venues such as this, he made his way up the maze of elevators and upper story walkways. Naively ignoring an ongoing stream of online threats, arriving unaccompanied, and supposing the assault on and stalking of Daily Olympian photojournalist Tony Overman as well as the bloodying of Seattle news photographers covering the 2012 May Day street violence had been aberrations, he arrived too late to cover the 10:00 – 11:30 workshop just as it had broken up for lunch.
Not having unpacked his camera/video gear and tripod, Amicus Curia pulled it behind in a 2-wheeled kit resembling a hand-truck because it was. After passing through the main entryway door, it was noted there was anarchist literature spread on a table immediately inside to the right ranging from topics like the need for insurrection to arguments attacking the effects of capitalism. Those near the entryway were young adults, white, and privileged. The poor and homeless who might have been their most natural audience seemed absent–no doubt tending to the daily struggle to survive in a hostile middle class dominated environment. But wishing to document all of this for public consumption proved far from simple.
Upon attempting to proceed further into the building’s interior, the reporter was at first blocked, then harangued by several present being told he was ‘not welcome’. Fully grasping a visitor to the Evergreen campus need not be welcome to be entitled to enter its public spaces or attend public events, he ignored the verbal abuse. Then the touching began. There were perhaps 8-10 people pushing close (kissing distance) to the reporter, bullying and intimidating in hopes of discouraging his entry. He pulled his small camera out of a side pocket and began taking pictures of the perpetrators engaged in the criminal harassment. He reached for his cell phone to call the campus police and report the assault. He retreated outside the door to place the call but the crowd pressed him, at one point pushing his gear from inside the building to immediately outside the doorway. A couple of young men demanded to know what the reporter was doing with his cell phone. Besides the obvious, he declined to respond other that telling them it wasn’t their business.
Suddenly, a young guy grabbed the journalists arm/hand and wrenched his camera from his grasp, then fled down the 3rd floor passageway with it. Immediately after, while the campus operator was on the line, another slightly older young man grabbed the 2-wheel hand-truck and gear, throwing it over the 3rd floor banister to the ground below. He immediately fled as well. TESC officer Garland witnessed the moment of impact, but was sufficiently intimidated by the violence and knowledge of the group involved, she summoned the Thurston County Sheriff’s office for backup to provide for her own safety as she was the only officer on duty on campus at that time. Thus, the reporter stood near his vandalized gear for around 5 minutes before she made personal contact. Clearly citizens must rely on their right to self defense based on this example of too little too late.
Eventually, after some discussion and giving the group (Sabot Infoshop) which organized the event an opportunity to cooperate (impertinently rejected) in locating the stolen camera and/or those responsible for the robbery, the event and organizers was to be banned from campus. Overhearing this, those behind the event voluntarily left the campus for a private venue despite their rhetoric abhorring the very concept of ‘private property’. They enjoyed the greater freedom of drinking beer and getting high anyway, some said.
In the aftermath, on the various (A)narchist websites around the region, hasty afterthoughts justifying the criminality were posted. More than a few of self described anarchists applauded the attack while a number actually present participated in it.
After signing a police report statement, the reporter contacted Peter Bohmer, who he’d known for over 45 years. Peter admitted he knew (in general) many of the organizers and likely attendees. But when asked for help retrieving the stolen camera, Peter demurred with an unsettling offer: Pete agreed to help retrieve the camera (which he opined he could likely accomplish) IF the reporter agreed not to press charges against those involved in its theft and the malicious mischief. The photojournalist listened closely as his admittedly privileged professor friend with the generous State salary sought to protect criminals engaged not only in vandalism under the pretext of anti-statism and anti-capitalism, but theft and assault. A recording was made of the conversation lasting over an hour on Peter’s front porch, and Professor Bohmer was alerted to the fact early on. Those involved in the earlier assault on the journalist were NOT alerted to the fact they were recorded in the midst of their assault.
The audio, for any who care to listen, is included in this retelling of the circumstances. Any member of the public who recognizes any of the voices is urged to contact TESC officer Marron at (360)866-6000, or this reporter. Full cooperation will continue to be given to those LEO’s investigating this crime including photographs of suspects and/or those providing criminal assistance after the fact.
You can listen to the audio of the assault by clicking Strong Armed Robbery.
The Daily Olympia carried a story reporting the outline of the incident on page 5 of their Sunday edition, 4-21-13 as well as their online publication. Local (A)narchist websites have published pieces/opinions typically justifying the assault as they generally do for individuals engaged in such behavior. The sites are saturated with taunts, gloating, and continuing threats directed at the reporter. Some resemble the self absorbed amusement associated with juvenile inspired prank phone calls.
Ironically, some of the more violent elements calling themselves anarchists and their supporters feign concern about their *safety* in the face of photojournalists capturing their image or that of their associates. It’s a bit like Dillinger complaining his getaway car didn’t come equipped with airbags. It is the public whose ‘safety’ is at risk. The violent anapunks merely risk getting caught. It’s a valid fear…as the number of folks who’d like to catch them grows daily.