From Seattle and Portland activists:
After spending Friday morning fighting Skanska in the courtroom, activists from Seattle and Portland united to confront Skanska's corporate smugness and callousness. In the early afternoon, they surprised the Seattle office with a loud broadcast that called out Skanska's involvement in animal abuse, specifically Chris Toher, Dave Harrison, and Lew Guerrette, three of the executives that filed SLAPPs.
Building management was especially aggressive at the protest, with one representative even confiscating a protest sign and subsequently calling the Seattle police, claiming that activists were trespassing. The police did nothing, and security watched from inside the lobby, idle and inept. The protest ended with a warning for Toher, Harrison, and Guerrette to expect visits at their homes later that evening.
The activists did not fail to deliver on their promise. First up was Chris Toher, Executive Vice President. Toher lives in Kirkland, where local police have been especially imposing. Kirkland police have cited three activists for alleged noise violations and attempt to intimidate protesters in an effort to stop the campaign. Fortunately, activists can be creative and adapt to new challenges. So on Friday, a group arrived at Toher's for a brief, but very loud, noise demonstration. Before any cops could arrive, the protesters were gone.
Activists brought that same energy to Guerrette's home in Sammamish. While he was attempting to watch TV, the group called him out for his role as Project Leader, his deep apathy, and his brazen hypocrisy -- Lew claims to have unbridled love for his dogs, yet he is in charge of a project that will undoubtedly cage and kill dogs just like his own.
Dave Harrison also lives in Sammamish, only a few minutes away from his buddy Lew. The protesters were very direct with Dave -- his indifference to animal suffering has gone on long enough and the animal liberation movement's patience only runs so deep. The tone must have caught his attention, as right when the group was getting ready to leave, Sammamish Police arrived on the scene to detain everyone. They claimed the protesters were in violation of a municipal noise ordiance, but refused to offer any proof or cite the specific ordinance. They were not interested in anything more than intimidation. They immediately asked for activists to provide physical ID -- something not required when under detention in Washington -- and when activists refused, police escalated by putting them in handcuffs. They asked for height, weight, eye color, and even social security numbers and threatened to arrest anyone who didn't comply. Male officers forcibly restrained a female protester and gave her a pat down. Throughout this ordeal, activists resisted police attempts to scare and harrass. One officer, Mark Lohse-Miranda, flippantly said, "If you think I'm violating your rights, you can sue the pants off of me." Eventually, through direct communication with attorneys, activists were able to overcome the threat of arrest and everyone was released from detention and handcuffs. The absurd encounter suggested that David Harrison was not very pleased with the protest that night.
Friday's momentum from Seattle spilled over into Portland. The following evening, a group of activists visited David Schmidt in Beaverton, OR. Lately, Schmidt has been receiving home protests on average at least once per week.
The Northwest Skanska executives couldn't contain the No New Animal Lab campaign, which sprouted from communities in Portland and Seattle. Despite attempts to silence the campaign when it was young, resistance to the lab has created a domino effect in the animal liberation movement. Now cities from all over the country are regularly pressuring Skanska, and everyone is gearing up to Swarm New York in January for what will be the most important mass action to date. Skanska's top executives are left to clean up the mess that the Northwest offices have created. They could have ended this long ago.
Now we will end it for them.