Letter to port expresses spirit of peace

Peace activists in Coupeville are drafting a letter of concern after the port district banned their materials from a popular kiosk in town.

Last week, officials from the Port of Coupeville decided not to place flyers promoting activities of Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation in a kiosk located at the Coupeville Wharf.

Those posters promoted such activities as the showing of a film titled, “And Justice for All.” That film, which was shown Sept. 21, documented civil rights violations against Arab Americans since 9/11.

The group also is hosting a talk next week where a speaker from the Interfaith Council in Seattle will address the peaceful message of Islam.

The commissioners for the Port of Coupeville decided not to place the flyers because they deemed them too political.

In response to the port’s decision, Peace and Reconciliation is drafting a letter to the board outlining their concerns.

“We didn’t feel we wanted or should have a confrontation with them,” said Patricia Brooks, a member of the group.

She said group members will likely approve the letter at its Oct. 10 meeting. That way it can be presented to the port in time for their Oct. 12 meeting.

She said the letter will reiterate that the group’s goals are non-confrontational and in the spirit of peace.

Brooks said port officials should have talked with the group before making the decision not to place the flyers in the kiosk.

Jim Patton, executive director for the Port, said there isn’t a formal policy about what is acceptable for the kiosk. He said people just stuffed flyers through the mail slot at the port office for employees to place on the kiosk.

He said the commissioners could draft a resolution about what material is acceptable for the kiosk, but he said that could be complicated.

He said the he would bring other questionable flyers to the commissioners’ attention for guidance. For example, he said he would bring a flyer promoting a gun show to the commissioners.

As for Peace and Reconciliation group, Patton said he would have liked to have seen more information about the group’s mission statement.

Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation’s literature states it is a community group trying to challenge militarism and the acceptance of war. The group focuses on proving support and leadership to islanders who desire long-term peace and reconciliation in the world, through information education, open dialogue and action.

In addition to the film series, members of the group were known for picketing on the corner of Highway 20 and Main Street protesting the United States’ involvement in Iraq.

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