By Tim Burns
The organizers of the OUR WalMart demonstration in Renton asked me if I would be willing to participate in “civil disobedience” at the demonstration on September 5. I was told that civil disobedience could lead to arrest and they needed to do a background check on me to assure that this would not produce other legal problems.
Since I have been attending rallies and protests in support of the WalMart workers for about three years, I was honored to be asked to be included in this small group of civic supporters. On the day of the action, organizers and two attorneys provided by UFCW 21 briefed thirteen of us, current and former WalMart employees and community supporters on what would occur.
At the appointed time, we led the rest of the attendees in a decreasing spiral to the center of Rainier Avenue in front of the WalMart store. When the spiral reached a small core, the thriteen of us sat down in the street, surrounded by approximately 300 other supporters.
After the crowd chanted support, the police, in full riot gear, ordered them to disperse, which they did, leaving the thirteen of us sitting, back to back, in a circle. Three times we were also ordered to disperse, after which we were told individually that we were under arrest for civil disobedience and taken to a mobile processing station in an adjacent parking lot. Upon being issued a citation, we were escorted back across the “police line” to the demonstration.
When I told my mother about being arrested, her response was that through my teen years she always worried about me getting in trouble with the law and now 50 years later it actually happened. I think that she is proud that I believe so strongly in a cause to be arrested for it. Several members of PSARA were in attendance at this action, including Kristen Beifus, who acted as MC. I wore my PSARA t-shirt to show the support of PSARA for the WalMart employees.
Tim Burns is a PSARA Executive Board member and the Chair of the 30th Democratic legislative district.