Protester Brianna Herrera chants, "Report the truth, restore the Constitution," in front of KIRO/7 television studios on Tuesday. (Gilbert W. Arias / P-I)

Protesters Target Patriot Act and 'Corporate Media'

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September 11, 2007



The Rev. Rich Lang, wearing his white pastoral robe, stood above his audience and delivered a fiery message on truth and righteousness.His pulpit wasn't in his Ballard church but on the front steps of the Seattle P-I, one of several media outlets targeted by a group of more than 300 protesters Tuesday on the sixth anniversary of 9/11.


The Bush administration has eroded democracy and civil liberties through the Patriot Act and other measures, and the "corporate media" has "violated the public trust" by ignoring or marginalizing those issues, said Lang, who organized the demonstration.


Protesters chanted "Report the truth" and "Restore the Constitution" at KOMO/4, KIRO/7 and the P-I, all about a half-dozen blocks from the Seattle Center.

Lang, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, said last month that he wearied of the "staged acts of street theater that have become commonplace in Seattle" but had little effect on social and peace issues. He advocated going straight to media outlets for a "public exorcism of the tyranny of fear."


"It's a good chance to put a face on the protests," said Susan Gelbar during the demonstration outside KIRO/7. Gelbar, a math teacher from Ferndale High School who was granted a day off, said she was "not a weirdo, wacky person."


Technical editor Rita Weinstein, a member of Lang's church, said she was participating in memory of ancestors killed during the Holocaust. She decried what she considered to be modern oppression.


"I could have my assets frozen just because of my opposition" to the war in Iraq, Weinstein said as she walked along Denny Way, referring to a recent executive order by President Bush that allows the blocking of bank accounts and other financial assets of people deemed working to threaten stability in Iraq.


"We are concerned, and the media is not telling that story," she said.


Other protesters cited legislation signed in 2006 that expands the ability of the government to detain non-citizens, including those suspected of terrorism, and to grant presidential power to declare martial law.


As the demonstrators chanted outside the P-I, a participant acknowledged that the particular protest was off target.


Given opposition to Bush and the Iraq war by P-I editorial writers and columnists, Slawek Porowski said with a sheepish smile, "I don't know what the hell we're doing here."


The demonstration included symbolic denials of freedoms -- a model of the Statue of Liberty with a black eye, a woman dressed as Lady Liberty with her torch extinguished, and "prisoners" in orange jumpsuits.


Beyond the images of the march lies a greater truth, Lang said.

"From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible warns us about the empire, the power in any singular hands," he said. "God is the one who frees the (Hebrew) slaves from the (Egyptian) empire. Jesus is put to death by who? The Roman Empire, an occupation force."


A concentration of power leads to oppression, he said.

Lang said that message resonates in Seattle's mainline churches, but other churches are "seduced by an accumulation of power in (an earthly) leader ... to save us." He said the views of the Rev. Joe Fuiten, pastor of Cedar Park Assembly in Bothell and a politically active conservative, would fall into that category.


Fuiten did not participate in the demonstration but spoke at a 9/11 observance Tuesday night in Mill Creek. He said Lang mischaracterizes both biblical references to empires and Fuiten's theology.


"The evangelical mindset has dominated America for 200-plus years," Fuiten said. "We're the ones who created freedom of religion."


Some families with loved ones in the military marked Tuesday's 9/11 anniversary with calls to end the war. About two-dozen members of Military Families Speak Out and other peace activists gathered, as they do every Tuesday, in front of the Federal Building to ask passers-by for their support to bring the troops home from Iraq.

P-I reporter Carol Smith contributed to this report. P-I reporter John Iwasaki can be reached at 206-448-8096 or

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