Port pulls peace posters

The Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation group has been placing flyers around town promoting events such as a film documenting civil liberties violations of Arab-Americans since 9/11.

However, the commissioners of the Port of Coupeville have decided the information on the flyers is too political and can’t be posted on the popular kiosk located near the Coupeville Wharf.

“This clearly has a political underpinning and underlining to it,” Jim Patton, port director, said during last Wednesday’s board meeting. “We can’t express this as a port.”

After the meeting, Commissioner Ed Van Patten said people who see such posters may erroneously conclude the port supports the political view expressed by the poster.

“It has a political slant to it and we didn’t think it was appropriate to post it on port property,” Van Patten said.

Commissioners Benye Weber and Van Patten attended the meeting while Bruce Bryson was absent.

The kiosk is located near the Coupeville pier at the corner of Alexander and Front streets. The kiosk presently advertises such events as the Giant Pumpkin Contest and Concerts on the Cove. Still posted is a flyer promoting the Peace and Reconciliation’s film series.

Commissioner Benye Weber said the port hasn’t allowed merchants in the past to use the kiosk for advertising.

The group is also promoting a talk titled, “The True Peaceful Message of Islam.” A pastor from the Interfaith Church in Seattle will talk about Islam.

Patricia Brooks, member of Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation, said that port employees haven’t posted their flyers the last couple of times she’s dropped them off at the port office.

At the time, she was unaware of the port’s decision not to post the group’s flyers. She said she would have appreciated being notified about the decision and told why it was done.

Brooks said she will discuss the situation with the group’s members before they proceed further. She stressed they will respond in a respectful manner.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said she wasn’t aware of the situation concerning the kiosk, which is located on port property at the busiest point of historic Front Street.

She said she understands the need for rules concerning what is posted on the kiosk.

“I think it’s not bad to have guidelines,” Conard said.

Patton said Peace and Reconciliation can voice any of their concerns at the next port meeting.

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