Minister Claims He Was "Brutally Beaten" By Police During Port Protest

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee December 14, 2011










Rev. John Helmiere

A local minister claims he was beaten by Seattle police officers at the Port of Seattle protests Monday.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Rev. John Helmiere claims he was repeatedly punched by officers, who arrested him for obstruction at the port:

Yesterday evening, I was brutally beaten by my brothers on the Seattle Police force as I stood before an entrance to Pier 18 of the Seattle Port in my clergy garb bellowing, “Keep the Peace! Keep the Peace!” 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.

With the right side of my face pressed to the street, he repeatedly punched the left side of my face for long enough that I had time to pray that the crunching sounds I heard were not damaging my brain. I was cuffed and pulled off the ground by a different officer who seemed genuinely appalled when he saw my face and clerical collar. He asked who I was and why I was here, to which I replied, “I’m a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe another world is possible.” He led me shaking to a police van where began a 12-hour journey of incarcerated misery.

A police report says Helmiere and six other protesters used pallets and metal sheeting to block Klickitat Ave. and Spokane St. near the port. The arrest report makes no mention of whether officers struck Helmiere when they arrested him, although officers typically detail their use of force in separate documents.

Helmiere was booked into jail late Monday night and released after about eight hours.

Court records appear to indicate Helmiere has not yet been charged with obstruction, but a city attorney's office spokeswoman told PubliCola yesterday that prosecutors could file charges against protesters soon.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson did not know if Helmiere had filed a complaint with SPD's Office of Professional Accountability. "If he was assaulted by Seattle police officers, he needs to report that," Jamieson said.

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