Politics & Government

The elusive face of anarchism

Portrait of an anarchist: Daniel Kyle Wilson, age 20.

In a news photo taken May 1, 2008, he looks like a thrift-store ninja, ski-masked, wrapped in black from head to foot. His shoes are black, with three gray stripes.

He stands midstreet in downtown Olympia, flanked and followed by a parade of protesters, their faces turning toward him. At the edge of the image, a burly, uniformed man hurries up the sidewalk.

Wilson stands in profile. His arm is cocked. His fist clutches a rock. He aims it at the window of the U.S. Bank on Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way.

The bank represents everything he opposes: corporate power, hierarchy, an unjust pecking order, financial backing of “ecocide.”

A crime is coming. Tony Overman, veteran photographer for The Olympian, senses the moment and squeezes off a frame. The image will be published the following day.

A split second later, Wilson hurls his rock. Two other anarchists follow suit. The rocks shatter glass and land in the lobby.

Alarms. Adrenaline. The street goes crazy.

The burly man in uniform, a security guard for the bank, rushes to Overman.

“Did you see who did this?” the guard asks.

“Yeah,” Overman says.

His camera holds the frozen image of Wilson. Overman, caught up in the chaos, does something he’s never done before.

He shows the frame, not yet published, to the security guard. A police officer hustles up. Overman shows the photo again: Daniel Wilson and his striped shoes.

“The problem that I’m wrestling with is that I did the right thing as a citizen and I did the wrong thing as a journalist,” Overman recently reflected.

Officers chase the suspects. Wilson runs. Relying on the photo, police identify and arrest him, along with five others.

Protesters hinder the arrests, shouting and spitting at the cops.

“Go home and kill yourself and your family,” someone screams at officer Don Heinze.

The May Day incident and its aftermath rippled through Olympia, starting a chain reaction and raising local tension in a community generally accustomed to political activism. Olympia houses the stew of state politics, three nearby colleges, energized students and a newspaper committed to local coverage.

Protests and vandalism tied to anarchists have risen. On the website pugetsoundanarchists.org, anonymous writers have claimed credit for 18 incidents of vandalism in Tacoma and Olympia since December, along with similar acts in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, B.C.

Banks and police facilities are the most common targets. Broken windows, banged-up cars, spray paint and ATM machines clotted with super glue are typical features.

In Olympia, an attack in March defaced a police substation.

Read the complete story at thenewstribune.com