The Seattle Police Department on Thursday released video of what it said shows its side of the violent clashes with Occupy protesters earlier this week, capturing protesters hurling bricks, flares and other dangerous items at officers.
Police deployed "flash bang" percussion grenades and pepper spray against protesters blocking the entrance to a Port of Seattle facility Monday, The Blaze previously reported. Eleven people were arrested, and some protesters complained about excessive or even brutal force on the part of the police.
But the police department said the tactics came after protesters grew increasingly violent toward officers. In one clip, a projectile that appears to be a brick is thrown toward police, and in another clip, a roadside flare. Additional footage show an officer with what police say is paint on his face from a filled paper bag.
"You don't bring bricks and paint and things like that to a demonstration with the intent of peacefully protesting or picketing," Asst. Police Chief Mike Sanford said during a news conference Thursday, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"It's been a long time since we've seen people throwing things that could kill people, not since WTO," he said, referring to when the World Trade Organization was in Seattle in 1999. "We've seen debris thrown, but...not bricks, not sharpened rebar, not things that would kill somebody."
Sanford said civilians with the police department filmed the five-minute video. He said sticks and smoke grenades were thrown at police as well, according to the Seattle Times.
Among the protesters to allege they were beaten by police was the Rev. John Helmiere, who filed a complaint with the department claiming that officers struck him several times in the head outside a port terminal. He was not hospitalized, according to the Times, but described the episode in an online 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."
But Sanford, who said he was there the night of the protest, said he was "surprised at the level of violence" on the part of the demonstrators and that there's a "difference between peaceful picketing...and violent, illegal picketing."
For officers monitoring the situation, "it's scary and it's dangerous" to see objects being thrown at you from the crowd, he said.
In releasing the video, he said the department hopes those involved can be identified.
"Help us identify those people," he said. "That is not the message that Occupy Seattle wants to get out."