An Olympian photographer’s Tumwater home and The Olympian’s building on Bethel Street were both targeted by vandals overnight Wednesday – with anarchist graffiti left spray-painted on walls, corrosive acid thrown on windows and three tires of the photographer’s pickup slashed.
Olympian photographer Tony Overman was singled out by the graffiti left on an exterior wall at The Olympian – where the words “Overman snitch” were written in dark paint. Overman said he was editing video in the living room of his Tumwater home after 1 a.m. Thursday morning when he looked out the window and noticed his pickup was sitting at a crooked angle in his driveway.
He said that when he went outside to investigate, he found the tires of his truck slashed, an anarchist symbol spray painted on his garage door and the word “snitch” spray-painted on his pickup. Additionally, a gooey substance had been left on all the windows of his truck.
At The Olympian, facilities and maintenance manager Darrell McDevitt said he arrived at work about 5:45 a.m. Thursday to find an acidic or corrosive paint-like substance had been splashed over about 13 windows at the front of the building. The words “Overman snitch” also were spray painted on an Olympian delivery truck and on the front wall of the building.
McDevitt said it is too early to say exactly how much it will cost to fix the damage, but he estimated it could cost upwards of $11,000 or $12,000.
Overman, 48, a two time regional photographer of the year for the National Press Photographers Association who has traveled to Iraq to shoot photos in war zones, said he is extremely disturbed that a group would take the trouble to learn where he lives and vandalize his property.
“These are the anarchists, and they are targeting me to try and scare me,” he said.
He said he thinks a group of anarchists want to intimidate him so they can prevent him from taking their photos during their participation in public marches. He said that in the past, published photos that he has taken of anarchists committing crimes like throwing rocks during marches and spray-painting property have been used by police to try to identify them.
Overman emphasized that only his photos published in The Olympian and on its website have ever been made available to police. Overman said that over the last several years, The Olympian has refused many police requests from law enforcement agencies for Overman’s unpublished photos.
Overman was the victim of an assault back in April 2010, when a woman, clad in black and her face covered by a bandana, spray painted his face and camera lens as he attempted to take a photo of a professed anarchist “anti-police brutality” march in downtown Olympia.
Overman said being targeted by anarchists at his house is infinitely more traumatizing than his experience working as a photojournalist in war zones in Iraq.
“The reason why it’s so disturbing to me is that you’d think that in a free country, the people who use the First Amendment to express their right to free speech would also respect the First Amendment right of the free press,” he said.
Olympia Police Detective Rich Allen, who has been assigned to investigate the vandalism at The Olympian, said he will coordinate with Tumwater detectives investigating the vandalism at Overman’s home.
Allen said Overman’s prior history as an assault victim, and now being targeted for crimes at his home, is “over the line” from what police normally deal with in vandalism cases.