This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
The masked anarchists who attacked police officers and a newspaper photographer in Olympia this month say they were taking a principled stand against cop brutality.
Proving themselves common thugs and punks is more like it.
Consider this statement from a 22-year-old protester accused of kicking a cop in the groin and knee with her combat boot: “The last time an officer said I assaulted him, the charge got dismissed, no contest. My Mom has a lot of money, my friend.”
Margaret Belknap indeed got a lucky break after she was charged with assaulting a police officer during an antiwar protest in San Francisco last year. Officials dismissed the charges after she completed a diversion program.
The only lesson she seems to have learned was that mom’s bank account can buy a get-out-jail-free card. Belknap is now charged with two counts of felony assault. She is one of 29 rioters who were arrested April 8 after a downtown Olympia protest turned violent.
The “State Street 29″ face various charges, among them assaulting two officers and a photographer for The News Tribune’s sister paper, The Olympian.
Ostensibly, their march was to show solidarity with Portlanders upset about officer-involved shootings there. For local flavor, the Olympia protesters dredged up the 2008 shooting of Jose Ramirez-Jimenez, slain during a standoff with Olympia police after he reached into his car where a 9 mm semiautomatic was stashed.
Olympia’s subculture of malcontents always seems to find some excuse to cause a ruckus and fight the man. Two years ago, as many as 500 concertgoers turned on police after security guards tried to get a man to stop smoking marijuana.
These are not displays of righteous anger; they are exhibitions of arrested pathological adolescence.
At the recent rampage, police say demonstrators spray-painted property, threw bottles and rocks at buildings and blocked traffic. The protesters answered allegations of brutality with violence of their own. They called attention to their public acts of vandalism and then tried to batter a photographer for daring to record them.
Olympia is no stranger to political activism, given the presence of the state Capitol and The Evergreen State College. But no community should have to tolerate lawlessness.
There are legitimate activists, and then there are hoodlums. The former tend not to wear masks and kick people in the groin.