• dougcasity

Capitol Protests ofJune

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

By: Doug Casity

On 2 June, 2020, the protests in the capitol of Washington State had been raging for a day or two. I received a call from a good friend of mine, a journalist who wanted to cover the events transpiring in Olympia. Having been present at the Berkeley Riots and other various demonstrations, I could not allow her to go alone. That night, we got together, gathered our equipment, formulated a plan and, after an amazing meal, prepared to go the following morning.

“Little Boots,” a five foot tall stick of dynamite, shadowed by my armor clad, six foot even self, spent five days walking back and forth, between the Capitol Building and City Hall, following the protesters. Out of respect and not wanting to create confrontation, we kept about a block of distance between ourselves and the demonstrators. Along the way, we documented various murals of graffiti, vandalism and some minor criminal activity, such as lighting trash cans on fire. We were also fortunate enough to have conversations with members of the public, law enforcement and most notably, a family of color.

This family had two small children in tow, who were walking out of a local motel as we were walking by. The youngest of the two children, upon seeing me, noticed the large firearm slung across my body and asked if it was real. “Yes ma’am, it is very real,” I replied. The mother, a wonderful lady, asked if they could walk with us, claiming “to feel safer” walking with us. “Of course! Where do you need to go?” Was our response. We all stood there and spoke for several minutes, introducing ourselves and explaining that we were a media team, covering the local protests. Soon enough, we were on our way again, headed back to City Hall.

Naturally, we had interactions with local PD as well. OPD was following the crowd, much like we were, although slightly closer. When the group would stop, PD would create a sort of perimeter around the crowd, blocking the streets and doing their best to contain everyone. We would skirt around the block, making the attempt to get different angles of the action. And like clockwork, there were several officers at the end of each block. We would approach the officers, introduce ourselves, advise them that we were media, covering the events and trying to keep some distance so we didn’t upset the crowd. It was actions like this, that quickly grew the support from the local law enforcement for us. We assured them that we were not there to cause trouble or harm anyone, just gathering content of interest.

This new relationship began to work in our favor. Little Boots and I had just arrived at the Capitol Building, where a man with a yellow Gadsden flag was standing alone. Boots, approached the individual while I stood back, keeping a watchful eye on things while she interviewed him. Only minutes had passed before two white SUVs pulled up and several State Patrol Officers jumped out to find out who we were. Upon discovering that we were the media team that was “stirring things up,” the sergeant told me that a very large group was in route to the Capitol Building and “Would not be kind to us,” if they seen us. Boots quickly wrapped up her interview just as we could hear the yelling and chanting of the protesters.

We skirted a garden area of the grounds and were approached again by another officer with State Patrol as well as a team of OPD bicycle officers. The group passed us without incident and Boots wanted to document their activity there at the Capitol. So, there we stood, at the edge of a huge gathering. Several of their members noticed us and let us be. But after several minutes, a small group approached us, asking us who we were, why we were armed and “If we planned to shoot them up.” It was at this moment they realized we were right leaning media, which immediately put a target on our backs. We were called Nazis, fascists, every name in the book. After some time, the crowd began moving back down the hill, toward City Hall.

One of the final nights we were there, Boots wanted to get closer, so we could hear more clearly what was being said during the gathering. After seconds of us standing on the edge of the crowd, a group of several dozen protesters surrounded us on three sides, because we had our backs to a wall across the street from City Hall. One of the first demonstrators saw my weapon, which caused the individual to become slightly aggressive toward us. I was able to deescalate the situation by speaking calmly to him. He said I was armed with a weapon and that, “made him MAD!” He screamed at me. Mind you, I was doing nothing but quietly standing there, not intending to engage anyone. Finally, the group encircled us, demanding to know who we were, why we were there, why we were armed. After explaining that we were media and armed for our protection and the protection of their protest, things mildly calmed down. But several people still had unfavorable comments, posting our pictures on Twitter, slandering us for simply exercising our Constitutional Rights, just as they were, claiming that we were there to “intimidate and scare” the protesters.

One person who saw me dressed in a camouflage top with patriotic patches and a Veteran ball cap, was immediately triggered, demanding that I remove the articles, including the American Flag patch on my shoulder, that was issued to me during my time in the Army. I politely declined the request, because it is a part of who I am. This drew further criticism because, “That’s part of what the protest was about.” I replied that I was neither for or against their demonstration, that I was there to ensure the safety of my friend and the members of the public, the protesters included, as well as the safety of the police officers.

On the final night of our escapades, we ran into a group of men who were also armed, standing on the corner of an intersection that was cordoned off for construction. We introduced ourselves and learned that they were guarding local storefronts from vandalism, so we stood there and chatted, exchanging intel and contact information after they noticed the fire extinguisher attached to my assault pack. This also created a new relationship for us, several of the men were fugitive recovery agents as well as former Army Special Operations who had valuable intelligence to share.

My friends and family that know about my activity, think that I get a little carried away with my kit. For five days, I carried about one hundred and twenty pounds of gear, including first aid supplies, eye wash solution for pepper spray, a full plate carrier with ballistic plates, extra ammunition, water and a fire extinguisher, as well as a long gun and a handgun. It was exhausting, but we never knew what each night would bring. Most of the storefronts downtown have apartments above them, if a protester had set one on fire, it would put innocent lives in danger and open the possibility for collateral damage. This is why the support from LEO was so encouraging. They knew we were on the side of freedom, not hate and destruction. Even the general public that interacted with us supported us over the protests, because we were not threatening anyone or destroying property.

I will always support freedom. Even if I disagree with your message, I will always be the first to stand up and defend your right to say it. It is part of the creed I recited every morning during basic combat training and will continue to live by.


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