Review: Don’t Call it a Riot

By Celeste Bennett

Tickets available online at Brown Paper Tickets.
Playing at 12th Avenue Arts in Seattle May 30 – June 23, 2019

In late July 1968, Seattle Black Panther Party members Aaron Dixon and Curtis Harris were arrested after being accused of possessing a stolen typewriter that was found during an early morning police raid. Citizen protests arose in the Seattle Central District. Both men were later acquitted. Writer and director Amontaine Aurore has created a thoughtful and compelling Seattle-set play that opens with the events of July 1968 and carries through to the World Trade Organization protests of 1999.

Enter the theatre in advance, just to examine the sets created by Parmida Ziaei, Matthew Smith and Lauren Holloway with assistance from the Art of Resistance & Resilience Club (Franklin High). The first thing one notices are the books and newspapers. Rotating sets are wallpapered with them, open books intertwined with images of Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, and other icons. The opening monologue delivered by Sam (Mic Montgomery) references the power of the pen, or as Sam says, “in this case, the typewriter.”

The first act takes place in a home shared by Sam and Reed, his partner in life and the Black Panther movement. Reed, played masterfully by Meysha Harville, is six-months pregnant, an eloquent and impassioned law student fighting for justice in an era when police are brutally suppressing dissent after a bullet silenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As she says after reading verbatim from a news report of the time, “Don’t call it a riot. It’s a slavery insurrection.”

The play is filled with tension and truths that hit hard even when delivered with grace. Reed supports Sam in his work to strengthen Black power and establish a Black Panther meals program in Seattle, even though it means he must leave her for days at a time. After an arrest leaves Reed’s friend Marti (Lillian Afful-Stratton) homeless, events occur that powerfully alter the course of all characters’ lives.

The resolution of what happens in Scene I drives the rest of the play, written skillfully enough that the outcomes are not predictable. During the short intermission, the staging has been adjusted to convey a leap forward to 1990. New posters adorn the walls, showing us Mumia, Nelson Mandela, and Rage Against the Machine. The bookcase is still there but sideways to us, and a laptop sits atop the table. We meet Falala (Skylar Wilkerson) who is preparing for the WTO protests despite the objections of Paris (Robert Lovett). Their differences are showcased as Falala focuses on the need to act against corporate greed and Paris emphasizes commitment to non-violence. The past is present, and Reed and Marti are reunited to untangle how we recognize and live out personal power when powerful organizations exist to undermine.

The playbill includes a list of recommended books and films, including The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution* and a weblink to a series on the making of the play. Don’t Call it a Riot was a finalist in the Bay Area Playwrights’ Festival in 2017 and premiered in 2018.

*Available via Jefferson County Library.

Unpermitted Illegal Gun Range Now In Operation

Last Friday, June 7, the Tarboo Ridge Coalition e-mailed Jefferson County Commissioners a detailed letter citing County records and file photos that document Fort Discovery Inc. has begun construction and training on the Corporation’s Tarboo Lake property without any permits.

The Corporation is charging ahead, clearing and grading, filling wetlands, pouring concrete, siting old and constructing new buildings and burying a 2000-gallon tank filled with sewage from commercial activity at the outlaw shooting range. Even more serious, County records document construction of a 50- yard gun range, with the shooting directed outward towards the neighboring property and State Highway 104. In paperwork submitted to the County, the Corporation’s president attests that training has commenced.

“This is dangerous, and illegal, and the County has a paramount duty to protect the health, and safety of its citizens. We are urging our Commissioners to direct their staff to issue a stop work order and shut this illegal activity down,” said Peter Newland, spokesperson for the Tarboo Ridge Coalition, a citizens group monitoring Fort Discovery’s behavior.

To date the County has not responded to the Coalition’s letter. The letter can be downloaded from here:

For Further Information Contact:
Peter Newland

Swordplay at H. J. Carroll Park

Members of The Society for Creative Anachronism were spotted on Saturday practicing their sword techniques.

The Society for Creative Anachronism is a medieval re-enactment group that holds tournaments and medieval feasts. The local group is called The Shire of Druim Doineann, which means “storm mountain” and represents Hurricane Ridge.

Shire members will be gathering at H. J. Carol park at 4 PM on the second and fourth Saturday of the month for fighter practice throughout the summer. Anyone who is interested is welcome to come and join in the fun.

For more information, visit their website

Homeward Bound Makes Progress on Cherry Street Project

Homeward Bound Community Land Trust is steadily making construction progress on the Cherry Street affordable housing apartments.

The concrete foundation and stem walls are poured. The stud walls and plywood sheeting is up. The cribbing that supports the building will be removed at the end of this month. By the end of June all the structural work is expected to be done.

The next construction phase will include restoring the upstairs Art Deco interiors, building exterior stairs, and putting four new units on the lower level. Two of the units will be ADA compliant.

Pictured in the photo is civil engineer Mike Szatlocky surveying the existing grade to verify any changes and to confirm the location of future parking and existing trees.

Assisting Szatlocky is Homeward Bound Board member Kristina Hestenes Stimson.

Ms Stimson reports that Homeward Bound is moving into a new office in Port Townsend’s Uptown Neighborhood. “There are files to sort and furniture to paint. And on behalf of the board, and all our members, I would like to express our most extreme gratitude to our local contractor, Pacific Environmental Services for getting this beautiful building off the stilts and on to a solid structure!”

If you would like to learn more about the Homeward Bound Community Land Trust, or to donate land, or become a member please visit their website at

Tarboo Ridge Coalition Has a Hearing in Front of Growth Management Hearing Board

Growth Management Board Chair Nina Carter asks Jefferson County lawyer Philip Hunsucker a pointed question.

On Tuesday, lawyers representing Jefferson County, and the Tarboo Ridge Coalition met to present information to the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board to decide how the county should proceed regarding county ordinance 12-1102-18. Depending on their decision, the ordinance may or may not allow for a large, military style gun range to be built on the north shore of Tarboo Lake.

The county’s main two arguments centered around concerns involving second amendment rights, and a potential lawsuit over loss of income value to property owners. However, Tarboo Ridge Coalition’s counter arguments, which included their contention that title 8 of the Jefferson County code may or may not be a development code, but that title 18 of the JCC certainly is a development code, and therefore does regulate land use.

Alex Sidles of Bricklin and Newman

When discussing the ways that a gun range, by its very nature, is sure to destroy a forest lands, Alex Sidels of Brickland and Neuman said “If ordinary free market forces were enough to protect forests, we wouldn’t need the GMA” Most of the ways a gun range differs from other, less invasive uses of a forest, center around the necessity to remove the very trees that make up a forest. Buildings aren’t trees. Parking lots aren’t trees. And a wide open, flattened area for target practice is not trees.

Mr Sidel also pointed out that loss of potential land use value is not a strong argument when it comes to GMA and land use concerns. There are other considerations which must come into play.

Quilcene resident Kitt Kittredge is particularly concerned with the planned military training “The military has thousands, millions of acres of our public lands already that they can train on. All over the country, all over the world. They don’t need to come into a public area that is surrounded by national forest, national wildlife, private land, BLM land, or state land, and privately held forest land to do their training. They have plenty, and in my opinion I’m not supportive of the military at any point, so they have more than enough. So I am very opposed to any military training in any area, particularly in this very pristine, quiet area, that is honored by tourists, environmentalists, farmers, forestry folks. It’s not the place to implant a large training ground for military.”

Keith Meyer, also of Quilcene, is concerned that the proposed gun training facility will severely affect land values, as well as impact the environmental impact on the land.

The decision is due on July 17th, and will be available on the Growth Management Hearing Board’s website the next day.

Smart Meter and Five G. Why We Should Be Concerned.

SMOG is taking part in a program organized by the Clallam Smart Meter/5G group and two Peninsula Progressive groups—“Smart Meters & 5G”.

The program includes short video clips, speakers and a panel discussion. Highlights include a presentation on 5G by Mechanical Engineer Anthony (Tony) Corrado, and the participation of Dr. Frank Springob, both Clallam County residents.

Tony Corrado has 40 years experience with defense related weapons, sensors, and technology development. An inventor who holds 19 non-classified patents, he is sounding the alarm about the grave threat of 5G.

Dr. Springob was featured in the award-winning documentary Take Back Your Power. He performed the dark field microscopy tests which demonstrate the degradation of blood cells resulting from exposure to smart meter radiation.

Join us Friday night, June 7th at the PT Community Center. A poster describing the full program and the participants is below.