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Jan-25-2011 05:30printcommentsVideo

Is the Salem NAACP Ready to Fight?

The goals may remain distant if priorities center around friendly relations with the right organizations...

William Coleman
William Coleman may know more about racial injustice than anyone living in this city. Photos by Dexter Phoenix, Video by Tim King: Salem-News.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Salem NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) has new officers and the change could represent a brighter future for people here who are faced with challenges due to the color of their skin.

History tells us that groups like the NAACP can accomplish realistic life-changing goals and it is unity and awareness that allow and drive these victories. The new NAACP President in Salem, Benny Williams, wants to see an increase in both under his leadership.

Outgoing President Greg Peterson was on hand to explain many points about the NAACP's mission which are covered in the video included with this report.

I had a few hard questions for this group's new and outgoing leadership. I have covered stories of more than one individual who believe the local NAACP did little or nothing to assist them in their time of need.

Of course no organization reaches or is able to fully assist every potential client or victim, but these cases are very serious in nature and involve people who are suffering.

The Salem NAACP meeting was held at Chemeketa College
in Building 2.Salem-News.com photo by Dexter Phoenix.

It seems that in order to bring about real change, a group like this has to have an edge, an open mind, serious organization, and with no doubt a certain spirit.

The goals may remain distant if priorities center around friendly relations with the right organizations, like local law enforcement agencies.

It strikes me as a conflict of interest.

I appreciate that Salem Police and the Marion County Sheriff's Office send their representatives to these meetings as a show of good faith. However I think anyone attending these meetings who is experiencing racism from law enforcement would be very intimidated to speak out.

It remains to be seen if the new NAACP officers will do more than remain very close to the very agencies that are often behind the racial injustice in the first place.

That is not to say that police aren't trying to resolve these problems, though it could be a clear sign that not enough is being done.

It is true that varying degrees of racial, criminal and economic police profiling occurs in this part of Oregon, as it does in much of the US. The reference to 'Driving while Black' is no joke to African-Americans who have to live with more frequent traffic stops than white people. This holds true for Hispanic people also. This is one area that Salem Police and the NAACP says they are actively working to resolve, which is good news.

It is unfortunate for all people that something of this nature needs to be addressed with police in this day and age. The only way to change a problem of this nature is for law enforcement to place an emphasis on the subject within its own ranks.

I have not positively confirmed this, but I am told that at this point, there is not a single African-American police officer with Salem PD, or deputy with the Marion County Sheriff's Office. Maybe it would be different if an emphasis was placed on further diversifying the law enforcement community.

The NAACP needs to grow because some local African-American citizens have big challenges taking place right now.

Four men with law enforcement backgrounds found many challenges in Salem,
Oregon. Salem-News.com NAACP photo by Dexter Phoenix

Among those in attendance were four local men with law enforcement backgrounds, who are all African-American, with fairly amazing stories that ring of racially charged injustice. My awareness of the local NAACP goes back several years, and stems from coverage of a case against a former Salem Police officer who is African-American. He wasn't here tonight, or that would be five past or current Black lawmen I am familiar with that all either are or were, in big trouble with the legal system.

One of the men is William Coleman, whose name is well known among regular Salem-News.com readers. He is a former Corrections Officer at the Oregon State Prison (OSP) who tried time and time again to bring about change after a realizing that the prison was not only allowing but encouraging racial tension among inmates.

His most memorable or possibly blatant aspect of this, is the prison staff's decision to play the movie 'Downfall' which follows the last several days of Adolf Hitler's life. It is an hour and a half of 'Heil Hitler' salutes; people being murdered; one suicide after another; sympathy for Nazi's who in real life were nothing short of monsters like Dr. Joseph Goebels; and the scene where children are forced to fatally ingest poison.

Another of Coleman's experiences involved being 'informed' by an African-American gang member serving life for Murder, William 'Dollar Bill' Thomas, that he planned to 'shank' another inmate, who was also Black; Clayton Howard.

Coleman explains that he informed his superiors multiple times that the stabbing was going to happen, and they did nothing. Coleman says he even talked to a newspaper reporter at the Statesman Journal newspaper about it, trying in vain to prevent a tragedy. Instead, the stabbing took place, in the prison chow hall, and the victim was taken to his cell and only provided medical treatment when a prison nurse heard what had happened. Fortunately Howard survived. Of course he has a serious lawsuit against the state that will be paid for by Oregon taxpayers.

The biggest question that arises from this story which is well documented in previous Salem-News.com reports is: Did prison officials in Salem, Oregon leave the assailant who had stabbed four Black inmates in the past in the main population intentionally knowing that the inmate he planned to stab was a 'jailhouse lawyer' who had won nine cases against the state from inside the prison?

This is a very serious question.

Another member of this group was Jamin Dumas, who I wrote about in January 2010 when the then 60-year old father of eight with a nineteen year record of excellence with Oregon Corrections, faced charges of second-degree assault for "injuring" the shoulder of a white racist inmate who took a swing at him.

Salem's new NAACP Pres. Benny Williams
Salem-News.com photo by Dexter Phoenix

According to testimony, the white inmate at OSCI was angry because he had to listen to an African/American guard, and because he had to wait to go to the prison yard, so he took a swing at Dumas, and received a non-life threatening injury from Officer Dumas. The next thing Dumas knew, he was facing serious charges and narrowly avoided a prison sentence.

A person can become despondent when the agencies that are self-charged with helping them refuse to do their jobs and pull their own weight. The NAACP has a chance to dig in and buckle down for some uncomfortable realities. If they do then the chances for a brighter future for African-American people in this community will exist.

Contact this group and become a member if possible:

NAACP Salem/Keizer Branch www.naacp.org
PO Box 13068
Salem, Ore. 97309
503 566-8876

Dumas article: White Inmate's Shoulder Injury Means 70 Months for Black Prison Guard

Links and more photos below, here is the current video:

History tells us that groups like the NAACP can accomplish realistic life-changing goals and it is unity and awareness that allow and drive these victories. The new NAACP President in Salem, Benny Williams, wants to see an increase in both under his leadership.

Previous Installments in this series:

Dec-27-2010: The 'Trickle Down' Effect of Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King Salem-News.com
Nov-25-2010:Tim King and Ruth Kovacs on KBOO's Prison Pipeline (AUDIO) - Salem-News.com
Nov-22-2010: Tim King on KBOO FM's Prison Pipeline Tonight - Salem-News.com
Nov-16-2010: Federal Mail Tampering at Oregon State Prison? - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-29-2010 A Witness With No Credibility - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-27-2010: Inmate's Life Threatened by Staff at SRCI - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-21-2010: Oregon Inmate Stabbing Victim Attacked Second Time - Tim King Salem-News.com
Sep-10-2010: Demonstrators Call Oregon State Hospital's Employment Practices Racist, Unacceptable - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-28-2010: Observations on Michael Francke's Murder, Frank Gable's Conviction, & the paid Confession of 'Shorty' Harden - Salem-News.com
Aug-25-2010: Whistleblower Blues: Man in the Hole - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-11-2010: Demonstrators Protest Local Newspaper Over Racism - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-05-2010: Evidence Shows Oregon Inmate Was Falsely Convicted - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-03-2010: Chicken Night at the Oregon State Penitentiary - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-21-2010: Eyes on the Oregon State Prison: Voicing Concern for an Inmate's Life - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-14-2010: State Prison Whistleblower Says Oregon Corrections is Blocking Federal Mail - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-05-2010 : A Denial of Civil Rights- Oregon's Collaboration in Racism Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-26-2010: Getting Refamiliarized with the Murder of Michael Francke - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-23-2010: Local Media Downplayed Former Prison Guard's Struggle Against Racism - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-18-2010: Exposé: Skeletons Falling Out of the Closet of Oregon Corrections - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-17-2010: Scott McAlister: Child Porn-Related Conviction and Practicing Law - Tim King Salem-News.com

_________________________________________________________

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. As SNc News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 75 Salem-News.com writers. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

_________________________________________________________

Dexter Phoenix has worked as a staff and freelance photographer since the mid-1990's and has a wealth of professional experiences on his resume. We welcome his presence to our staff and Salem-News.com.

This native of Great Britian moved to Los Angeles in 2007, where he photographed general news, general Interests, sports, freelance model photo work, and also stock images. In his career Dexter has had photos published : World wide, in many magazines and newspapers and online. Throughout the course of his career he has experience with technology of all imaginable types. In his career as a photographer Dexter has covered stories in Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, Somalia, Tunisia, Algeria. Angola, Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia, United States. Email inquiries about photo purchase to Dexter at the above address. You can email Dexter Phoenix, Salem-News.com Photographer/Reporter, at innocent_p0stcard@hotmail.com




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William Coleman January 28, 2011 4:02 am (Pacific time)

My response to white senior citizen. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for explaining to the world the history about what the NAACP is supposed to stand for: I've been to several NAACP meetings here in the state of Oregon over the last few years not one NAACP president ever explained to the people what you've just written. This statement need to be posted on jobs next to BOLI/EEOC. Some white people think NAACP is for black people only!! You've just educated Oregon on this topic. You've got my vote for president or regional supervisor because they need your help on educating them on state/ local government. The NAACP lacks experience in that area. NAACP allows state officials to come to their meetings or behind closed doors and tell them Do's and Dont's on what they could do to fight their own agencies, the same agencies causing the racial problems. It very hard for the NAACP to police these agencies when they have so much input. For example you have these law enforcement officers sitting in on public meetings. How comfortable you think an officer would be if he filed a racial complaint with the NAACP against his agencies and his boss is attending at that meeting. Totally a conflict!! Thank you! God Bless!


William Coleman January 28, 2011 3:17 am (Pacific time)

My response to the person who's related to pioneer "Elijah Bristow" by marriage. Thank you for sharing the history about your ancestors and explaining how state/ federal government operated back then and now. You're one of a kind in Oregon!!! You understand clearly what I've been through, you just opened the eyes to people of all cultures and also made some people angry, the last thing they want to hear is a statement this powerful and true coming from a white person. We need more people like you in this world, i thank God for your parents they created a special child. Thank you for sharing this with me. God Bless!


A white senior citizen January 27, 2011 11:11 am (Pacific time)

I am white, so in response to "Anonymous January 26, 2011 9:23 pm (Pacific time)" I speak from my own viewpoint of never having experienced racial discrimination in my life, as of yet and I’m a senior citizen; I attribute this to the fact I’m not of a racial minority.

My thoughts: The N.A.A.C.P.’s ‘birth’ was a complex joint effort that began more than 100 years ago; primarily organized and high-level-managed primarily by the guidance of NON-blacks.

Quoting from wiki: From it’s conception around 1909, “the leadership was predominantly white and heavily Jewish American. In fact, at its founding, the NAACP had only one African American on its executive board, Du Bois himself. It did not elect a black president until 1975.”

Whites, blacks, and every racial group in America can join the N.A.A.C.P. as members; and in Oregon it certainly appears (considering some cases of racial profiling of African-American employees that have recently occurred in certain local and state level government agencies) we (whites and all colors of humans) ought to come together and support the organization, most especially the Salem chapter.

The central issue is not Black, White, or In-Between: It is that seriously-dangerous discrimination to 'life and liberty' at its most fundamental level (against any racial group) remains possible when one particular racial MINORITY is being discriminated against in a patterned-institutionalized manner as salem-news.com articles has pointed out. Mainstream media will rarely investigate these racist occurrences, for MANY reasons (the Oregon news-media reluctance with reporting racial problems in government would require an in-depth essay to address).

My motivation is to become involved in this racism problem is spurred by a fact: Racism is being expressed and acted upon by government-employees against other government-employees in Oregon to an extent where it is operating "under color of law" or by conspiracy-from-within; hinged upon a distinct strategic-intent of trying to wrongfully convict and incarcerate government-employees (of racial minorities) who may be challenging to the racist behavior of their coworkers or management. THIS IS EVERY CITIZEN’S BUSINESS.

The need for an anti-racist collective to grow from the entire skin-color spectrum of the Oregon community is that this is NOT only a "Black" issue; it is a civil rights/human rights issue in Oregon, and in Salem (the state capitol, for goodness-sake). Oregon state government can't deny its history of white hegemony.

Therefore, when Anti-Non-White Racism in Oregon’s state prisons is being underscored and even manipulated by government employees to provoke and to punish, as has been done by the acts and omissions of Oregon prison guards and prison management, it needs to exposed and stopped.

A case in point is Mr. Coleman's documented ‘testimonials’ and prosecution. He was marginalized as a state employee more than once, which was followed by an attempt to "criminalize" him so as to discredit his speaking out on the climate of racism being reinforced and instigated by the state 'actors/agents' themselves; this strategy extended right up to the Marion County prosecutor, operating as a 'hack' hit-man of sorts for the Department of Corrections.

GOAL? Shutting Coleman up by locking him up.

This is the reason, as a “WHITE” person, I plan to try to help recruit new members and show and give support for the Salem chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. They are ‘on the ground’ in the community, and they need anti-racism ‘troops’, no matter what the color. There are many ways they can be helped, and even though I haven’t been in contact with their chapter yet, I plan to and will.

Editor: That was powerful.


Anonymous January 26, 2011 9:23 pm (Pacific time)

Can we have a group like this for only White People? Fight discrimination against whites? Just wondering because it's going on more than you think. Thank you


Anonymous001 January 26, 2011 6:50 am (Pacific time)

It is interesting that I have never seen a black Salem cop. I am sure there are one or two, but I would bet they are RARE!


To Mr. Coleman: January 25, 2011 10:49 pm (Pacific time)

To William Coleman:

I am a mostly of “white” ancestry and the descendant of three separate Oregon Trail pioneer families, that against great odds came to Oregon between 1850 -1852. Two births in my family happened in separate wagon trains (in separate years) on the way to the Willamette Valley. One pregnancy ended in the death of mother and child, the other ended happily; somewhere near Nebraska in the middle of the plains. That child, the youngest of twelve, unfortunately died first (at the age of nineteen) on my family’s two thousand acre homestead in the Valley. 

I am related by marriage to the famous early Oregon pioneer Elijah Bristow. My great-great-great grandfather’s brother was married to Elijah’s daughter. She and my great-great-great uncle came to Oregon shortly after her father. One of my great-great-great grandfathers (a circuit-riding Christian preacher) was elected and seated as an early Oregon legislator in the latter-third of the nineteenth century. His son later served as the ‘Reader’ for the State House.

My ancestral families’ histories (of times in Oregon before statehood and after) have been passed down to me through family journals and by-word-of-mouth. Because of my family history, I know of the early-on circumstances relating to undeniable, racially discriminatory laws of Oregon history.

This knowledge of my own ties to Oregon’s past inspired me to learn more about Oregon’s specific anti-African-American laws, and to attempt to grasp the reason for Oregon pioneer sentiments which inspired such; sentiments which clearly hearken back to the Southern roots of many of the pioneers. Such early law and sentiments were no more, nor less than a desire of protectionist white hegemony, continuing on in Oregon years after the Civil War had ended. The racial discrimination against African-Americans in Oregon in its early era was overt, at times vicious, and remained codified in the Oregon Constitution for decades.

The historic fact of overt policies of specific, racial discrimination against African-Americans can be more thoroughly understood by a reading of two essays on this topic.  The essays were written by a gentleman whose bio is paraphrased, as follows:

“from 2003-06 this man was a Visiting Professor of Law at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon. Before Willamette he was a litigation attorney with Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, OR (2000-03), a professor of history and government at Sterling College in KS (1990-96), interim senior pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland (1988-89), and a professor of religion and humanities at Reed College in Portland (1982-88). During a sabbatical from Reed, he was a senior editorial writer for The Oregonian (1985), Oregon's largest circulating daily newspaper.” 

The two essays reside for online viewing here:
http://www.drbilllong.com/LegalEssays/OregonBlacks.html
http://www.drbilllong.com/LegalEssays/BlacksII.html

Sadly, the racism against African-Americans in Oregon went underground, it was not extinguished; here and there it raises its ugly head, most especially in Oregon state government enclaves but also in the cultural-climate of certain county and local governments throughout of Oregon. You will hear little in the media about its consequences to neither Oregon’s minority citizens, nor its benefits to Oregon’s white citizens. It is unspoken truth, because it is most certainly politically-incorrect, could cost the public large financial settlements if proven in Federal Court; and by some people’s estimation (including mine) it is totally, morally wrong.

The worst part of my family history is a rather disgusting and  unconscionable fact. Many of my ancestral families were slave owners. As a matter of fact, one of my great-great-great grandfathers left the South to come west in 1851 specifically to escape this fact, being many of his immediate family owned slaves including his parents and all his grandparents. He felt slavery was morally wrong. These facts as I was told (passed down) are born out by historical documents I have since uncovered; the reality is documented in a number of U.S. slave census reports and Free-person census reports in that even more of my ancestors (than I knew of) were slave owners.

Yes, some of my ancestors came west to Oregon to escape racism and slavery being practiced by their own families, yet others came to Oregon and remained racists. The families they left behind were at times later divided over the Civil War. Some, knowingly, even fought their own relatives; as is detailed in letters that have survived with my extended families in Oregon.

Today, we should all consider people of all skin colors as our relatives; we must fight no more in the workplace or our neighborhoods over the color of each others' skin.

With all this in mind, especially in that my ancestors were part of the racism problem in not just Oregon but in Southern states too, I feel an affinity and duty to join with others to seek the ‘overthrow’ of racism in the government institutions of Oregon.

I pledge my ongoing support to you, Mr. William Coleman, and to other current and ex-Oregon Corrections officers (including Oregon law enforcement officers) of minorities who like you, Mr. Coleman, have already suffered so much, or may have yet to suffer from the effects of the mental-disease of racism embodied in some of their government coworkers.

Also, I pledge support for those African-American current and ex-state government employees (and other minorities) who additionally suffer under the racism and ethical corruption of state agency managers, which at times extends to even certain County prosecutors with the political complicity of state Courts in trying to convict these same minority employees of crimes; often upon the flimsiest of evidence and perjured witness testimonies of purposefully selected felons and prisoners. 

I support the Salem N.A.A.C.P. being renewed, reinforced, and reorganized towards this aim, also. I encourage others of every partisanship in Oregon (and beyond) to step out of their ‘little patch of immediacy” to help in this effort through every dimension and every civil method available at your disposal towards establishing a better and more just government for and of ALL the people of Oregon.


Luke Easter January 25, 2011 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

Well, prayerfully they'll be more into the needs of others as opposed to their own. Ala, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton because if there's no photo opt neither one of them are anywhere to be found. If they can't be promoted/advanced through it look elsewhere for genuine assistance. Personal aggrandizement is the only thing on their (not yours) menu.

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