"I’m the tall guy in the white overcoat,” says Minister John Helmiere, of the Valley & Mountain Spiritual Community in Columbia City, speaking about the video released yesterday by the Seattle Police Department. It shows him, starting at about 2:45, standing near the protesters' makeshift barricade, his arms locked with the arms of other protesters, a gray ski hat on his head. It doesn't, however, show the beating he alleges took place.
"I wish there was more," Helmiere told me by phone today. "I wish it showed me getting beat. But it confirms that I wasn’t being aggressive and got pulled down from behind.”
What about the fact that the video shows this protest wasn't entirely peaceful, with road flares and other objects being thrown at officers?
“The idea that, even if some things were thrown, that it makes it appropriate to pull down a peaceful person and then hit them in the face—that’s ludicrous," Helmiere said. "I think any normal person would agree that’s not necessary. It’s an act of intimidation.”
He told me he hasn’t heard anything more in response to his complaints to the police department's Office of Professional Accountability, but he did notice today's harsh criticisms of the SPD by the Department of Justice.
“I thought those were very timely," he said. "I think the police are trying to spin this [port protest] story and make it sound far, far worse than it was—like they were victims, when they were aggressors. The timing of the DOJ release is just hilariously beautiful.”