After the Protests

Bellingham Herald's Letters to the Editor 
Photos taken by Dennis Withner have been added to this page. 
They did not appear in the Herald.

December 3, 1972
Bellingham Herald
To the Editor, The Herald

On Thursday, Nov 30, members of the Fairhaven community staged a spontaneous and peaceful demonstration protesting the devastation and disruption of their community under the direction of Ken Imus, owner of the Jacaranda Corp.  The demonstration materialized as a confrontation between the social and spiritual values of many Fairhaven residents vs. the private and business interests of one developer Ken Imus.  Mr. Imus does not and by his own admission would not live in the mass confusion and congestion created by tourist traps.  Yet he intends to perpetrate this travesty on the unwilling (and financially impotent) members of the Fairhaven community.

In this country the coefficient and power is wealth and since the majority of citizens barely possess a mere subsistence income and a tiny fraction of real property, they are essentially powerless in the face of the few who do possess the preponderance of wealth.  The equation can be readily applied to this contest.  Moreover, since the law was formulated to protect "private” property remember the majority of citizens own only a small fraction of real property in the United States) then the protection is virtually afforded the wealthy and the privileged almost always at the expense of the poor. 
This point was graphically illustrated by the over reaction of the Bellingham tactical squad in quelling the quiet and undisputed "peaceful” demonstration.  No demonstrator destroyed private property and no demonstrator physically or verbally abused or resisted the police.  This is fact and can be verified by dozens of witnesses.

Yet the police, instead of peacefully arresting and directing the arrestees to the awaiting bus, shoved, handcuffed and dragged demonstrators along the street.  It never occurred to the police that they were confronting simple, honest citizens in the act of civil disobedience; not hard-core revolutionaries with incendiary bombs and armed resistance!  The over-reaction was uncalled for and far out of proportion to the problem.

All the power play and showy riot strategy could easily have been avoided by the officers in charge, if they had confronted the demonstrators with the imminence of their arrests and requested of them peaceful compliance with the arresting officers in exchange for peaceful and humane treatment by the arresting officers, i.e. the old adage "come out with your hands up and we won’t shoot”.  I sincerely hope that this in the future the police use more discretion and think before they act.

December 5, 1972
Bellingham Herald

Letters to the Editor
Peaceful Protest 

The crowd down at Fairhaven were protesting something they believed in.  They were not throwing rocks or shouting four letter words.  For a fact they were quiet.  They had a kettle of soup going, even giving some to the operator of the bull dozer.

Just quietly protesting.
True the land was no longer theirs to use, but this garden meant something to them.  When the police came down the street in formation with riot sticks in hand, a confrontation was inevitable.  As they marched up to the protestors, the police ordered them to disperse.  Within seconds (surely enough time) the police went into the crowd swinging riot sticks, inflicting injury at random.  Not one protestor struck back, but true they did resist.  They lay there inviting the police to beat on them.  Could there have been another way—or do the police enjoy such brutality?

The old people up in the bank building, soon to be thrown out of the only homes they have known for years, stared down at what was happening.  All this in the name of progress!

We know that in a country as great as ours that the criminals are the poor.  Money decides who is right and who is wrong.  Moral obligation seems to have no meaning.

I wonder if it’s not too much to ask for the rich people of this country to give a little.  It really doesn’t hurt, some say it even feels good!  Just think what would have happened if the new land lower who wants to use that small piece of land for storage, had tried to understanding.  No blood would have been shed and I’m sure he could have used one of his manly lots in the area for storage.

Was it really too much to ask?

*    *    *
December 10, 1972
Bellingham Herald

Letters to the Editor

‘Misuse of zoning’ in Fairhaven

Editor, The Herald

In the Wednesday, December 6, editorial, "Human” Rights and "Property” Rights, you characterized the confrontation between co-op gardeners and Ken Imus as a conflict between the "convenience” of some against the property right of the other.  You viewed the "right” of Ken Imus to buy his way into the Fairhaven community and begin to transform it in the way that suits his desires as equivalent to the right of a "little man” to his home or even the right of a person to his or her coat.  Wouldn’t you admit not in retrospect that this simplifies the issue just a little?

A distinction can be made between "the big entrepreneur’s property ….(and) ….the little man’s home ….” Our zoning laws make all kinds of distinctions between industrial, tourist – commercial, neighborhood, business and residential property.  Our laws limit property rights because what one person does on is or her property may have a grave environmental impact on the entire community.

The real issue raised by the confrontation was not property rights versus no property rights.  The issue is whether this city’s zoning laws are 1) being misused for the sake of monied interests and 2) whether they are adequate as written.  We as members of the community have a right to control how persons use their property in so far as that use has a serious deleterious effect on our environment.  At present city and county administrators have neglected their duty to exert that control.  Monied interests by and large have free reign in our community and that has to come to an end.

*   *   *
December 8, 1972
Bellingham Herald

Letters to the Editor

How come Fairhaven is ‘their’ community?

Editor, The Herald

Regarding the events of the Nov. 30 in the Fairhaven area, a few points must be raised.  First of all, the actions of the demonstrators have been defended on the grounds that  were protesting the destruction of their community.  By what right can it be considered "Their Community”?  By the same right that gives those who, by choice, will not work and as a result make economic slaves of all taxpayers?  By the same right that rewards their idealistic lifestyle with the hard-earned money of everyone else?  That is no right.  That is a crime against man’s intelligence and integrity.

Yes the laws were formulated by and for those who place a higher value on achievement than on idealistic wants; by and for those who would work for what they wanted and keep what they have earned to use as they best see fit. 

The police were formed to protect those property rights.  The protect real property from coercion just as they protect personal property from looters in the night.  The lack of physical destruction to the property by demonstrators is not grounds for inactivity by the police.  The protesters were physically keeping a property owner from doing as he wished with that property.  Being a little bit coercive is like being a little bit immoral or being a little bit pregnant.  There can be no compromise.


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