Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

December 15, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Minister alleges police punched his head repeatedly at Occupy melee

A Seattle minister says he has requested an investigation after alleging officers struck him several times in the head at Monday night’s Occupy the Ports protest, on Harbor Island.

The Rev. John Helmiere, of Valley and Mountain Fellowship in southeast Seattle, describes the episode in this online essay  published in local blogs.

“Physically, I’m feeling pretty rough,” but felt fine spiritually, Helmiere said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.  Scrapes to his face were still throbbing, but a headache was gone, he said.

Helmiere says he joined the Occupy march to support short-haul truckers, “some of the most underpaid and exploited laborers in our city.” They earn close to $30,000 a year and often work in unhealthy conditions. Many truckers honked appreciatively at the afternoon marchers.

The 5 p.m. melee Monday happened near the Terminal 18 entrances, while a larger group walked on the lower West Seattle Bridge to Terminal 5. “I went there specifically to try and be a nonviolent presence and voice in a situation I could see getting out of control,” Helmiere says.

This Associated Press video shows Helmiere, in a light-tan jacket, before police pull him down from behind, next to a metal barricade. After that, he says in the essay:

An officer pulled me down from behind and threw me to the asphalt.  Between my cries of pain and shouts of “I’m a man of peace!” he pressed a knee to my spine and immobilized my arms behind my back, crushing me against the ground.

Moments earlier, officers were moving gradually to clear the street, until someone tossed a lit flare at them, and police rushed to seize people. (A police account and photos show a paint bag and steel rebar also hurled at them.)  Helmiere seemed to be in the most precarious spot, with bicycle and mounted police on one side, a hard barricade of wood and metal at his back, and the crowd to his right.

“Officers used the force necessary to ward off attacks and or to effect arrest,” police spokeswoman Renee Witt told crosscut.com.

In all, police made 11 arrests. Helmiere’s complaint would be handled by the SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability.  Seattle police haven’t yet returned a call for comment.

 

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Occupy Seattle, police, protest

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►