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(en) US, Tacoma, WA. Media: Protesters plan to 'shut down' downtown

Date Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:45:48 +0200

Protesters plan to “shut down” downtown Tacoma Friday and Saturday to “send a very clear message that will be heard by the powers that be” that they’re unhappy with federal immigration policy. The group, spearheaded by a group of self-proclaimed anarchists, is unhappy with the 1,000-bed Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats. It’s the main detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The protest will be centered at a “green zone” near Tollefson Plaza at South 17th Street and Pacific Avenue. “Bring puppets, musical instruments, signs, banners, creativity and passion,” a Web page about the protest reads. “The rest of downtown will be open to diverse and creative tactics!”

The protest was planned at Pitch Pipe Infoshop at 617 South 17th St. It bills itself as “a not-for-profit, collectively run radical lending library and community space” and boasts it “has the potential to become a hub for regional anarchist networking, skill sharing, and organizing.”
No one from the shop returned phone calls or e-mail messages.
There also appears to be a counter-protest brewing. A group called March for America! sent out a mass e-mail in a “call to all American patriots who are able, to stand in solidarity against the communist/socialist/anarchist pawns who call for an end to the nation state, who call for an end to America.”
Jonnie Crivello, the founder of March for America! Washington, was unsure how many people the group will have because of short organizing time.
The Tacoma Police Department expects the rally to be peaceful. However, it’s also heard that some smaller groups might use the rally as a way to move throughout the downtown corridor and engage in “unlawful behavior,” police officials said. The department is prepared to respond if there is illegal activity during the rally.
The department has been aware of the rally since last month and have been planning their response.
“Hopefully we won’t be needed whatsoever,” spokesman Mark Fulghum said. “We’ll be ready in case we are.”
The department encourages business owners and residents to go about their activities as usual. However, they ask business owners to make sure their outside area is free of debris and obstructions like sandwich boards, displays and other signage. Officials ask people to report suspicious activity to the police.

The Business Improvement Area is adding an extra security patrol Saturday, Paul Ellis said.
Patricia Lecy-Davis, the president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said she’s not sure what to expect, but one thing should be different.
“This will be the largest crowd we’ve had in downtown for a while,” she laughed.
Few expect violence to erupt, but some businesses near Tollefson Plaza are taking precautions. The Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 1515 Commerce St. will add an extra security guard this weekend, front-office manager Jennifer Chell said. Warren Cabes, the owner of Tacoma Art Supply at 1552 Jefferson Ave., said his biggest concern is customers finding parking this weekend. And, he adds, the protest could become a positive.
“I might (tell the protestors), ‘Well, you know, this is an art store,” he said. “We sell markers and paint if you want to make signs.’”
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