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Another round of protests at Port of Tacoma?

Post by News Tribune Staff on July 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm with No Comments »
July 30, 2008 4:34 pm

A Stryker armored vehicle rolls down the ramp of the USNS Brittin at the Port of Tacoma on Wednesday. It’s one of an estimated 900 Strykers, Humvees, trucks and other vehicles back from the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division’s nearly 15-month deployment in Iraq.

Photo: Russ Carmack/The News Tribune

Local authorities are bracing for a repeat of the March 2007 demonstrations that accompanied the departure of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division’s rolling stock for its combat deployment to Iraq. The brigade’s Strykers, trucks and Humvees – more than 900 vehicles in all – arrived at the Port of Tacoma yesterday aboard the USNS Brittin.

Fort Lewis officials said soldiers will be moving them back to the post during non-peak traffic hours. Otherwise, they’re not saying much about it.

Tacoma police and 10 other public safety agencies said they spent a total of $1 million on staffing and overtime during the 12-day loadout last time.

The Port of Tacoma billed the Army about $324,000 in wharfage fees and another $204,000 in longshore worker labor for the March 2007 loadout, according to port billing records.

Olympia and Tacoma-based anti-war activists say they are preparing to demonstrate at the return of the vehicles, just as they did at the brigade’s departure.

The Olympia Port Militarization Resistance objects to public ports in Washington being used to ship military cargo to and from the war in Iraq on the grounds that it believes the war to be immoral and illegal.

The group has organized protests at all of the recent military shipments into and out of the ports of Tacoma, Olympia and Grays Harbor.

“If there are any demonstrations we are hopeful that the demonstrators will conduct themselves lawfully,” said Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek, “… and that we can complete the mission in a safe and secure manner.”

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