Protesters removed from railroad tracks at Port of Longview - KPTV - FOX 12

Port of Longview protests ends with scuffle, 12 arrests

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LONGVIEW, WA (KPTV) -

A local union president was among 12 protesters who were handcuffed and hauled away by police officers Wednesday morning after blocking railroad tracks at the Port of Longview.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union officials say Local 21 President Dan Coffman, two longshore officers and about 10 wives and mothers of longshore workers were arrested on charges of criminal trespassing and obstructing a train.

Wednesday's protests are the latest development in a battle over who has the right to work at the port.

Cowlitz County deputies say they set up at the port preemptively because a grain delivery was expected on the tracks. Shortly before the train arrived, officers moved in and removed the protesters from the tracks.

RAW VIDEO: Protesters yanked off railroad tracks by police

SLIDESHOW: Police arrest protesters sitting on tracks

While the arrests were being made, 54-year-old Michael Muller, and 28-year-old Byron Jacobs became involved in a scuffle with the officers, deputies say. They now face charges of felony assault of a police officer.

Deputies say Jacobs was also involved in an incident Sept. 16 when they say he threatened to sexually assault a family member of an officer making an arrest. For that, he faces a charge of felony harassment.

FOX 12's helicopter captured video of the protesters being yanked off the tracks by police officers. A full SWAT team could be seen at the site of the protests.

A union representative said a woman sitting on the tracks was "treated roughly by police in riot gear" and that a person who tried to help her was pepper-sprayed while handcuffed.

Earlier this month, protesters with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union repeatedly blocked a train bringing grain to the terminal, and police say hundreds later stormed the terminal and damaged property.

The union members have an agreement entitling them to work at the Port of Longview, and they're upset that the grain terminal's new operator has hired a contractor staffed with workers from a different union.

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