LONGVIEW, WA (October 21, 2011) — The president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 today asked Port of Longview commissioners to drop all trespassing charges related to a union demonstration on the afternoon of September 7 on rural Port of Longview property, in which demonstrators were told they were free to go home, only to be stalked and abusively arrested in subsequent weeks by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s office and the City of Longview police.
“Union members gathered on the railroad tracks on September 7th to exercise their free
speech rights to protest a union-busting, multinational corporation that promised this community jobs,” said Dan Coffman, President of ILWU Local 21. “These demonstrators were told they were free to go home after the demonstration, but in the following weeks they were stalked by multiple squad cars, torn from their cars and homes, and paraded around town by law enforcement that’s out of control. The Port of Longview has the power to put an immediate stop to these heavy-handed arrests and costly prosecutions, by dropping the charges against all workers who were peacefully protesting on September 7.”
Coffman pointed out at today’s port commission meeting that the port had previously given the union maps that showed property that was off-limits for picketing, and that workers were protesting on property that was not marked as off limits on the map. Port commissioners did not immediately comment on Coffman’s request.
“The commissioners missed an opportunity to do what’s best for the community and put an end to the heavy-handed punishment meted out against workers by Sherriff Nelson and Chief Duscha,” said Coffman.