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Anti-war protester assaulted in Oak Harbor
People have called him a traitor, a terrorist and a coward. And those are just the printable epithets. But Jeremy Steinsiek, 22, said emphatically he is not a coward.
"That's definitely not true," he said. "If I was a coward I wouldn't be out here."
Steinsiek has been on the corner of Highway 20 and Barrington Drive every day since the bombing started in Operation Iraqi Freedom, flashing peace signs and waving a homemade sign that reads, "Drop Bush, Not Bombs." A small American flag waves from one corner of the cardboard sign.
People have not taken kindly to his war protest.
Drivers have been yelling and throwing things at Steinsiek and his small group of protesters for days, but Monday it escalated to violence. First a woman yelled, called him names, and threw a cup of ice water out her car window at him, soaking his shirt. Later a man stopped, got out of his car and assaulted Steinsiek.
Steinsiek said the man, who had "Bud" written on his hat and shirt, yelled at him from his car that he was stupid. Steinsiek, who admits he has a "mouth that tends to run off," yelled back. Steinsiek said the man then got out of his car, more words were exchanged, and "Bud" shoved him from behind, yelling, "I fought for your freedom," Steinsiek said.
Steinsiek's reply of "You fought for my right to be here," apparently incensed "Bud" who grabbed him by the back of his "Anti-flag" shirt and threw him to the sidewalk.
Steinsiek said another man in a car stopped and pulled "Bud" off, and the police arrived rapidly to take his assailant to the police station, where he was arrested on suspicion of fourth degree assault.
Police identified the man as Franz Noble, 51, of Anacortes. He was cited and released.
"It was crazy," Steinsiek said. "There's a lot of aggression in this town." After going to the police station to press charges, Steinsiek was back at his post.
He said he has has a good deal of time to research the war and international issues on the Internet, and what he finds makes him sick.
"Anyone who says this is not about oil is kidding themselves," he said. "If broccoli was the main export (of Iraq) we wouldn't be there."
Many of the people who seem incensed by his presence say he should be supporting the troops, especially in this Navy town. He said he does.
"I do support the troops," he said. "I think they should be home. I'm pro-troops and anti-war."