PORTLAND, Ore, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Twelve longshoremen’s union protesters were arrested on Wednesday for trying to block a train from entering a grain terminal in Washington state as labor tensions flared again at the Port of Longview.
Ten of the demonstrators, including the wives and mothers of some port workers, were detained on charges of criminal trespass and obstructing a train, said Jerusha Kasch, a spokeswoman for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.
Among those 10 was Dan Coffman, president of the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21, the union said.
Two more protesters who scuffled with police were pepper-sprayed and arrested on a felony charge of assaulting a police officer, the union and police said.
One of those two also faced a felony harassment charge stemming from a Sept. 16 confrontation at the port in which he was accused of threatening to sexually assault a family member of a deputy who was arresting another individual, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
ILWU Local 21 Vice President Jake Whiteside said the confrontation began after about a dozen protesters, nine of them women from the union’s “ladies auxiliary,” walked out onto the railroad tracks and sat down, prompting police to move in.
“The police were getting rough with an elderly lady they were arresting,” and two fellow demonstrators ended up getting pepper-sprayed when they intervened and “let their emotions get the best of them,” Whiteside said.