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Sherwood working to ban protests in neighborhoods

"These protestors are using terrorist tactics," targeted Sherwood man says

COURTESY OF CITY OF SHERWOOD/SHEWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT - Protesters picket along Southwest Sunset Boulevard in Sherwood on Dec. 6. Residents say the 11 p.m. event, which included protestors shouting into bullhorns, constitutes harassment. Correction appended

Residents frustrated by animal rights protestors showing up at all hours of the night and picketing in front of the home of a Sherwood man packed into Sherwood City Council on Tuesday night, saying police and the city aren’t doing enough to address the issue.

Tim Baugus said he is concerned about the safety and livability of his neighborhood after protestors have targeted him in a series of protests that began nearly a year ago. The group is trying to stop the construction of an animal research facility on the University of Washington campus. Baugus is a contractor for Skanska USA, the company building an animal research facility in Washington.

The protest group, No New Animal Lab, calls itself a grassroots pressure campaign to stop Skanska and the University of Washington from building the Animal Research and Care Facility on the school’s campus.

Baugus said protesters have demonstrated in front of his Southwest Sunset Boulevard home as late as 11 p.m. some nights, chanting, leaving graffiti and shouting through bullhorns.

“These protestors are using terrorist tactics,” Baugus said.

He said police have failed to stop the loud noise and protests, and has asked for an ordinance that would prohibit residential picketing.

Sherwood ban would be first in Oregon

Sherwood Police Capt. Ty Hanlon said police have been dispatched to calls regarding the protests 144 times between April 5 through Dec. 6.

“It’s been a challenge to deal with this,” said Sherwood City Manager Joe Gall. “People have the right to protest.”

Nevertheless, the city is looking at crafting an ordinance that would ban picketing in residential neighborhoods. It would be a first of its kind in Oregon, though other states have used similar actions to stop anti-abortion groups protesting in front of the homes of abortion providers.

Those ordinances have held up all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Baugus’ daughter played a cellphone recording to City Councilors on Tuesday of the protestors loudly repeating a variety of slogans including, “We’ll never back down, until you stop the killing,” magnified through bullhorns.

Baugus is not directly involved in the construction of the Washington animal lab, but Ellie Perka, a Seattle attorney representing Baugus, told the Council that the protesters have become aggressive.

“He’s not a murderer, he’s a contractor,” she said.

Sherwood has a noise ordinance, Perka said, which is being continually violated.

Gall said protesters often leave once police arrive and that bullhorn users are clearly violating the city’s noise ordinance, but stop using the amplified devices when police arrive.

Hanlon said that officers responding to the protests wait for backup.

“One of the things we know, once you confront these people, they become volatile,” Hanlon said.

Beaverton has similar problem

The protests are part of a national campaign targeting executives from Skanska to stop construction of the animal research facility. The group posts the private addresses of Skanska executives all over the country.

The Seattle Times reported in October that University of Washington officials have said the new animal research building, which is located west of the University of Washington Medical Center, is needed “because research animals are being kept in aging, outdated labs at a number of different locations across campus.”

Justin Kay, co-organizer of No New Animal Lab, told the paper that his group plans to fight the construction of the new facility “tooth and nail, every step of the way.”

Six other residents expressed concerns about the continual protests at Tuesday's Sherwood City Council meeting, including Janet Bechtold, who has lived in Sherwood since 1978.

“I haven’t seen anything like this,” she said.

Some said they had lost confidence in police because no arrests or citations have been issued.

Among those who expressed concerns Tuesday night was Jeff Roberts, a neighbor who lives across the street from Baugus. He said his children “wake up crying and scared” when the protesters come at night and ask him why police don’t stop them.

Mark Cottle, a former Sherwood mayor and attorney who lives near the Baugus home, said that not enough is being done to protect neighbors from loud protesters. He said if police are afraid to take action, he would demonstrate with a bullhorn in front of council members’ homes to show them what it sounds like.

The protests aren’t unique to Sherwood. A Beaverton Skanska executive with direct ties to the new animal research facility is also having to contend with protests.

Editor's Note: This story originally misattributed a quote from Sherwood City Manager Joe Gall as coming from Police Capt. Ty Hanlon

By Ray Pitz
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