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Remembering the Kitsap Ferry Riot, with three punks (and one ferry guy)

Illustration by Tom Niemeyer, for Chris Looney

There really was a punk rock riot on the Kitsap Ferry. There are contemporary media reports and court records to corroborate it. So it's a true story. But the story has also become legend -- part of local lore.

Over the past 30 years, people in Seattle’s punk scene have told it over and over. So have people who work for Washington State Ferries. Over time, the details have gotten a little murky.

The basic facts are these: It was 1987, and there had been a big punk show in Bremerton, including local band The Accused and UK band GBH. After the show, a bunch of kids who'd been at the show caught the last ferry from Bremerton back to Seattle. So did a few off-duty cops, and one very drunk woman.

After that, things got out of hand. There was, in this order: a striptease, public urination, a fire axe, and at least one loaded gun.

In this story, we hear from a few people who remember the event, including Ian Sterling, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, David Portnow, the man behind PIG Records, Chris Looney, creator of the short film "","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">">Infamous Kitsap Ferry Riot," and JG Garonzik, lead singer for the local band Disciples of Dissent

To learn even more about the riot, including how an infamous King County law called the Teen Dance Ordinance played into the atmosphere that spawned it, see Looney's experimental animated short film.","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">","_id":"0000017a-8d22-d4f4-a97b-af2b52080002","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">

Posey Gruener is a former KNKX producer who worked on All Things Considered and Sound Effect.