Over the last several days, a handful of news outlets have reported scuffles that resulted on a small stretch of Olympia railroad tracks. Early Wednesday, Olympia’s finest cleared a week-old encampment of protestors off their makeshift home.
Headlines call attention to the friction. They draw attention to the protestors’ purpose. They don’t focus on a major issue of the Olympia protestor’s sit-in: these guys were “protesting” in the wrong place.
On November 17, a roving contingent of protestors set up an illegal campsite on railroad tracks in Olympia, Washington. The demonstrators proclaimed that they were honoring a similar exercise that happened on the tracks in 2016. Their purpose was simple: to stop the transportation of fracking supplies out of the Port of Olympia. These 20-30 protestors believed their outburst might stop the shipment of fracking sand or oil through their town.
What these liberal masterminds failed to notice, however (outside of the fact that the nation has more than 140,000 miles of railroad track) was the moment when the Port of Olympia stated there was no shipment of any fracking-related product or component traveling along the tracks on which the protestors squatted.
In other words, the entire purpose of their little Hooverville was moot.
Police allowed the encampment to remain for more than a week after it was set up. A little after 5:00 a.m. on November 29, however, rent came due. Dressed in SWAT gear, police peacefully moved the protestors away from their encampment and then cleared the way for public works crews while mask-wearing protestors, “sang songs and mocked police.” No charges were filed, no arrests were made, and no one ended up in the hospital.
In short: there was no violence or notable conflict. The police allowed these people to set up shop on a railroad line that wasn’t transporting anything remotely related to fracking. Then, when these same officers cleared the site as peacefully as possible, they were mocked openly before letting every single protestor go home without penalty.
While headlines paint the protestors as anti-establishment heroes, the truth is that these anti-fracking activists were indulged for over a week even though their protest served no actual purpose. At the end of that time, the protestors were politely brushed aside and sent home.
The real story doesn’t sound quite so dramatic as the retelling.