Kent Dismisses Police Brutality Complaint; Vashon Islanders Criticize Orca Protection Plan

A weekly roundup of regional news

• A complaint filed by pro-choice activists against the Kent Police Department over their alleged use of pepper spray and batons at a June protest has been closed by the City of Kent — despite criticisms in the complaint that officers treated the protesters with “extreme brutality and unnecessary force.”

Gina Petry, president of Seattle-based Radical Women, one of 11 groups that rallied June 9 outside of a Kent Planned Parenthood clinic in support of women’s reproductive rights, filed a three-page complaint in July after several people testified before the Kent City Council that local police used pepper spray and batons on the protesters.

Petry claimed that police physically forced demonstrators to move across five lanes of traffic and that police showed bias during the protest against the estimated 300 reproductive rights advocates who rallied in support of Planned Parenthood (anti-Planned Parenthood protesters were also present outside of the clinic). “One policeman started spraying pepper spray directly into people’s faces,” she wrote. “Those being shoved across the street had not and did not resist or make any threatening moves against the police, but were treated with extreme brutality and unnecessary force.”

Kent City Attorney Pat Fitzpatrick reviewed the complaint and dismissed it in a Sept. 5 letter to Petry. “The complaint asserts that counter protesters were pushed such that they were almost trampled and that they did not resist or make threatening moves against the police. This too is false. The counter protesters dug their heels in and leaned back against officers in forceful resistance,” he wrote.

Fitzpatrick added in the letter that Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Chief Administrative Officer Derek Matheson and Police Chief Rafael Padilla are willing to discuss the matter further with Petry if she would like to meet with them.

Petry is not satisfied with the city’s response. “The investigation and letter from the city attorney still does not address and answer our questions,” Petry wrote in an email to the Kent Reporter. “We are being given the runaround.” — Kent Reporter

• DNA of a man found under the fingernail of a 16-year-old girl he allegedly tried to kidnap in August near Kent led to his arrest last Oct. 4 by King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Kevin J. Perkins, 52, with a last known address in Federal Way, faces a first-degree attempted kidnapping charge for grabbing the girl and pulling her into his vehicle on Aug. 13 as she walked in the area of South 272nd Street and 42nd Avenue South near Star Lake (east of Interstate 5) in unincorporated King County, according to charging papers. The girl managed to escape after she kicked Perkins. She also scratched his face.

Deputies arrested Perkins on Thursday at a house in Tukwila, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He had a $500,000 warrant for kidnapping. Perkins stayed in the county’s Seattle Correctional Facility with bail set at $500,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 11, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“The defendant attempted to kidnap a 16-year-old girl off a neighborhood street,” Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nicole L. Weston described the incident in charging papers filed Sept. 28. “The defendant repeatedly struck the victim, choked her and threw her into the vehicle he appeared to be associated with. The defendant then attempted to remove the victim’s pants. The victim fought back and was able to scream, kick, scratch and knock the defendant down and escape.” Weston added that the girl ran into the middle of the street to flag a vehicle down for help.

Perkins, the suspect, has a lengthy criminal history. He has prior felony convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm in 2008 and 2005; residential burglary in 2008, 2005 and 1996; second-degree burglary in 1989, 1986 and 1984; and violation of the uniform controlled substances act in 2008. — Federal Way Mirror

• While Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca task force released a lengthy list of draft recommendations last week to help stem the decline of the regional whale population, experts on Vashon Island say changes to the plan are needed in order for it to be successful.

In March, Inslee signed an executive order appointing state agencies, tribal leaders, local governments, federal partners and other stakeholders to a cooperative task force, which has met throughout the summer, working on issues such as orca prey availability, contaminants, and vessel interference. The task force’s 53-page document of draft recommendations involves a range of measures such as assessing dam removal, curbing pesticides, and increasing hatchery production. The plan will be finalized on Nov. 16.

Some island residents concerned by looming environmental threats say that while the draft is a promising start, the real work has only just begun. Islander Joseph Bogaard, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon, argues that additional priorities need to be advanced, such as increasing water that’s rerouted via spillways through regional basins and dams in order to deliver greater numbers of migrating juvenile salmon to the Pacific Ocean, where they would be available for the orcas. Some state Republican legislators have opposed rapid changes to dam operations, according to The Seattle Times.

Bogaard added that barriers, culverts and dams that impede salmon migration must be designated for removal in order to restore vital habitat and, ultimately, the outlook of starving southern resident orcas. “We need to be taking increased measures to protect, restore and reconnect salmon habitat across the basins of the Salish Sea and in the Columbia Basin,” he said. “We can support communities that rely on the service of the dams today. The longer we wait to make these sort of transitions, the longer we pay for the cost.”

Another slander, Ann Stateler, or “Orca Annie” as she is commonly known, of the Vashon Hydrophone Project, does not believe the proposed recommendations go far enough, calling them “anemic half-measures, tinkering around the edges of an extinction crisis,” and named several of the draft’s components — such as gradual removal of four dams in the lower Snake River — as a long-term response to an unfolding crisis that won’t make enough of a difference in time.

“If you can muster the political will to breach those dams, go for it, but my problem with it is that it’s not an emergency response,” she said. “That is not something that is going to happen anytime soon.”

The public ican submit feedback and comments on the draft report online until midnight on Oct. 7. — Vashon Beachcomber