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Joe Dyer/Seattle Weekly
Last Friday, as on the two previous days before it, protesters took to the streets in anger over former SPD Officer Ian

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To The Protesters Who Pushed, Spit On and Otherwise Tried to Harm Our Photographer: You Are Idiots

protest02.jpg
Joe Dyer/Seattle Weekly
Last Friday, as on the two previous days before it, protesters took to the streets in anger over former SPD Officer Ian Birk's escaping charges stemming from his unjustified shooting of Native American wood-carver John T. Williams. Joe Dyer, one of Seattle Weekly's photo interns, went down to the action to document it for our website. What happened during the protesting was a shameful and misguided display of cowardice by some of those involved.

Here's Dyer's own account of what happened on Friday:

I got a call from my girlfriend at around 7:40 telling me to get to Third and Union because "something was going on."

On my way out I met up with another man holding a camera, and we decided to try to find out what was going on and where. We decided to follow the general direction of the police cars and the advice of strangers to get to the protest downtown. After about 10 minutes of briskly walking through downtown, we saw a group of young adults all dressed in black and decided to follow them instead . . .

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Joe Dyer/Seattle Weekly
While attempting to photograph, I was blocked on several occasions by young adults all dressed in black holding flags. At one point I was labeled a "snitch" by the crowd and accused of working with the police. This only fueled their hostility towards me even though I said that I was press.

Some protesters demanded that I stop taking pictures; one of the group leaders even announced over the megaphone that I was a snitch. I was pushed, shoved, spit on, tripped; one guy tried to take my camera, and others tried to hit it with flag poles. It was clear that I was not welcome there. But nonetheless I continued photographing.

Indeed he did. He kept shooting and got some great images which help tell the story of what went on that night, some of which are seen in this post and the rest of which are in a slideshow here.

He even got shots of police using pepper spray on several protesters--images that the activists likely have already used to showcase the police brutality that they so publicly rail against.

Like this one:

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Joe Dyer/Seattle Weekly

And this one:

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As best exemplified by the massive protests in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East right now, reporters and photographers are not the enemy. That's why dictators shut down the Internet and send thugs to beat/rape/detain them. Showing images of what's going on is a threat to those who don't want the truth exposed.

Lashing out a photographer doing his job only works to defeat whatever message the activist were trying to get out. If the protesters didn't want attention, they wouldn't be marching down the street with signs, yelling things and , well, protesting.

So why on earth they'd want to attack someone who is going to carry their message well beyond the handful of residents and scores of cops who physically witness it is beyond us.

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