Four local WSP troopers brought in for Olympia protests

Fewer demonstrators result in less disruptions

By John Branton and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: November 29, 2011, 10:09 PM

 

State troopers dealt with only 200 Occupy Olympia protesters Tuesday — far fewer than Monday. They made 11 arrests for crimes such as resisting arrest and trespassing.

And when it was time to close the Legislative Building at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, it went well, said Dan Coon, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Four troopers from Southwest Washington were dispatched to help with the protests during the special legislative session.

The 30-day special session began Monday and 2,000 to 3,000 demonstrators, mostly affiliated with the Occupy Olympia movement, showed up, Coon said, adding, “Thirty (protesters) had to be carried out.” Four felony arrests were made in connection with assaults on troopers, who used their Taser weapons to subdue some protesters.

Tuesday was a different story.

“The capitol closed on time and the protesters left when asked,” Coon said Tuesday night. “They were loud but peaceful.” None of Tuesday’s protesters was arrested for felony assault and, in contrast to Monday, no police or protesters were reported injured.

Besides making the 11 arrests, troopers on Tuesday issued trespass warnings to an additional seven people who refused to follow building rules, according to a news release issued Tuesday night.

“Four of the arrests related to disturbances created during legislative hearings in the Cherberg Building. Two subjects were arrested during disturbances in the Legislative Building. Five were arrested for violating trespassing admonishments issued earlier,” according to the news release.

Those who start fights are likely to be arrested, Coon said.

Of the four local troopers sent to help, two were assigned to work security at the special session, said Trooper Ryan Tanner, state patrol spokesman for District 5, which serves Lewis, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties.

The other two troopers were sent to the Capitol as members of the state patrol’s rapid deployment force team, which responds to situations including civil disturbances and demonstrations, said Dan Coon, a state patrol spokesman.

State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, witnessed a confrontation on his way back to his office on Monday evening.

“It was a volatile situation, and the troopers were clearly outnumbered,” Benton said in a news release Tuesday. “These demonstrators looked to me like they came prepared, even trained, to engage in aggressive behavior. I applaud the Washington State Patrol troopers for their professionalism, strength of character and dedication to their job during this senseless attack.”

The WSP estimates that Monday’s protests cost taxpayers $76,000 in wages when troopers could have been doing regular duties, $12,000 in overtime, and $8,200 in travel time as troopers were called in from outside the Olympia area.

According to the state patrol, as the protesters left the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon, one demonstrator said, “We need to leave now, so we can come back tomorrow.”