Friday, May 4, 2007

Free Speech & Hip Waders

I'm sure that, if you spoke to the staff or commissioners from the Port of Grays Harbor, each would tell you how much they value the exercise of free speech. It's one of those hallowed American rights. It's so important that, they believe, they have gone out of their way to create a free speech "zone" for area residents coming to the Port to protest against impending military shipments to Iraq.

On a superficial level, they would be correct. The designated patch of earth is located across the street from the service road to Terminal 4, the terminal the US military will use to load the shipments. It's in a high visibility area, since it is on the main street that runs through the Port.

If you look a little deeper than the superficial sheen on the top, you will quickly discover that free speech must not be that important to them. The designated zone is in a marsh! What appears to be a level and freshly mowed field ACTUALLY is a choppy piece of land with a lot of standing water throughout.

Working in cahoots with the City of Aberdeen, the Port is trying to make it as difficult as possible for people to gather in the marsh! No Parking signs fill all the side streets within the Port as well as several blocks deep in the surrounding neighborhoods.

I live about 1 mile from the Port and these No Parking signs start only 2 blocks or so from my house. They run all the way down Industrial Port Road to the Hoquiam city limits!

While Grays Harbor residents are treated to a very good county-wide transit system, only 5 buses go to the Port area and none travel that route on the weekends.

So, while we are being granted the right to exercise our constitutional rights in an area of high visibility across from Terminal 4, the zone itself is situated on a marshy piece of real estate that is difficult to get to.

It makes one wonder how differently this situation would be dealt with if a group of people wanted to hold a rally cheering the military equipment being brought in. It wouldn't surprise me if the Port arranged for shuttle buses and housed the rally at the Port offices, replete with refreshments!

Friday Event
If you'd like to come take part in an exercise in free speech, we will hold a vigil today at Zelasko Park from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. The park is located next to the Wishkah River in the east end of Aberdeen.

If you're coming from the west, once you pass Burger King, you will cross a bridge over the Wishkah River. The park is immediately to your left.

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