SEATTLE mayor won't be bowed, despite being hit in the face by a protester's megaphone

Monday, July 9th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ A visibly banged-up Mayor Paul Schell vowed to continue taking his agenda into the streets despite being bashed in the head by a protester's megaphone.

``Mayors are on the front lines,'' he said Sunday after being released from the hospital. ``We have to be there in direct contact with the citizens. It's one of the joys of the job, so I'm not going to change.''

Schell, who sustained broken bones around his right eye and a nasty shiner, wore sunglasses and held his wife's hand as he greeted reporters Sunday. He was expected to be back on the job Monday.

The attack occurred Saturday during a community celebration. Police and witnesses say James C. Garrett struck the mayor while protesting the recent shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Garrett, 55, was arrested for investigation of felony assault and was expected to have his first court appearance Monday.

In jailhouse interviews with Seattle television stations, Garrett said someone else hit the mayor and that he was arrested because he is black.

He said he had given the megaphone to another person shortly before speaking with Schell. ``No, I didn't hit the mayor,'' Garrett said. ``I don't have no need to hit the mayor.''

While some said the attack on Schell was justified and showed the frustration many in the black community have felt, others condemned it.

``This is something the African-American community can be ashamed of,'' said Oscar Eason, president of Seattle's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The arrest is not Garrett's first run-in with the law. In a 1988 protest, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail after grabbing a gun from a University of Washington police sergeant and pointing it at the officer's head.

Schell insisted the attack will not deter him from going out into the community and working to improve the city's transportation system, affordable housing and public safety.

``I'm determined in my effort to do everything I can as mayor of this great city to see that we address our problems in a forthright way,'' he said.

There are no concrete plans to beef up security for Schell's public appearances, but he said Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is reviewing the matter.