Stifling dissent

From Olympia, WA's The Olympian:

Vandals target Olympian building, staffer
The Olympian's building on Bethel Street and an Olympian photographer's Tumwater home were targeted by vandals overnight Wednesday - with anarchist graffiti spray-painted on a door, a corrosive substance thrown on windows and three tires of the photographer's pickup slashed.

Photographer Tony Overman was singled out by the graffiti left on an exterior wall at The Olympian - where the words "Overman snitch" were written in dark paint.

Overman said he was editing video in his living room after 1 a.m. Thursday when he looked out a window and noticed his pickup was parked at a crooked angle.

He said he found the tires of his truck slashed, an anarchist symbol spray-painted on his garage door and the word "snitch" spray-painted on his pickup. A gooey substance had been left on all the truck's windows.

Olympian facilities and maintenance manager Darrell McDevitt said he arrived at work about 5:45 a.m. Thursday to find that an acidic or corrosive paint-like substance had been splashed over about 13 windows at the front of the building. The words "Overman snitch" also were spray-painted on an Olympian delivery truck and on the front wall of the building.

McDevitt said it is too early to say how much it will cost to fix the damage, but he estimated it could be about $12,000. Olympian Publisher George LeMasurier said, "As a newspaper, we believe strongly in the right of free speech and the right of people to assemble peaceably, but there is no right to destroy property. It's troubling that some people in our community resort to violence and anonymous attacks in the dead of night to express their opinion."

The vandalism is the latest in a string of such incidents at various locations in Olympia. In early May, someone left anarchist graffiti in a rest room at the new City Hall and attempted to pour cement into the toilets. In April, vandals shattered every window at South Sound Bank on Harrison Avenue and left anarchist graffiti, according to Olympia police. In March, anarchists were suspected when unknown people tried to set fire to a back door of the Olympia Police Department's Harrison Avenue substation.

Overman, 48, a two-time regional photographer of the year for the National Press Photographers Association said he is disturbed that someone would go to the trouble to find out where he lives and vandalize his property.

"These are the anarchists, and they are targeting me to try and scare me," he said.

He said he thinks a group of self-described anarchists wants to intimidate him so they can prevent him from taking their photos during their participation in public marches. He said that in the past, published photos he has taken of anarchists committing crimes, such as throwing rocks during marches and spray-painting property, have been used by police to try to identify the anarchists.

Overman emphasized that only his photos published in The Olympian and on its website have ever been made available to police. He said that over the past several years, The Olympian had refused requests from law enforcement agencies for unpublished photos.

Overman was assaulted in April 2010 when a woman, clad in black and her face covered by a bandanna, spray-painted his face and camera lens as he attempted to take a photo of a professed anarchist at an "anti-police brutality" march in downtown Olympia.

Overman said being targeted at his home is even more traumatizing than his experience working as a photojournalist in war zones in Iraq.

"The reason why it's so disturbing to me is that you'd think that in a free country, the people who use the First Amendment to express their right to free speech would also respect the First Amendment right of the free press," he said.

Olympia Police Detective Rich Allen, who has been assigned to investigate the vandalism at The Olympian, said he will coordinate with Tumwater detectives investigating the vandalism at Overman's home.

Allen said Overman's history as an assault victim, combined with being targeted for crimes at his home, is "over the line" from what police normally deal with in vandalism cases.

FSCKing self centered onanists. But some good news - The Olympian again:

Rally for Olympian photographer draws about 40
About 40 people gathered Saturday afternoon on the front steps of The Olympian to show support for Tony Overman, a photographer for the newspaper whose home and truck were damaged last week by vandals who spray-painted an anarchist symbol at his home. The vandals also spray-painted "Overman Snitch" on The Olympian's building, damaged building windows and tagged an Olympian vehicle with spray paint.

Pity that the rally was not publicized -- I am on two local photo email lists and there wasn't a peep on either one about the vandalism or the rally.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on June 14, 2011 2:32 PM.

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