Oregon Police Chief's Racist Remarks Led Him To Retire Early & It's The Latest Incident To Add To The Tension Between Officers And Citizens
An Oregon police chief was seemingly forced into early retirement on Monday, after his own officers turned on him and reported him to his superiors for alleged racist misconduct back in July. According to local Portland CBS affiliate KOIN, Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover was placed on administrative leave after an officer filed a complaint alleging that he had made disparaging remarks about black people. In the official report filed with the Oregon Department of Public Safety and obtained by KOIN on Sunday, Officers D. Alex Stone and K-9 Officer Zack Gibson claimed that Hoover's actions had placed them in an uncomfortable working environment.
In an incident on June 25, Stone alleged that he had briefed Hoover on a case involving a black female who had threatened legal action against the Clatskanie Police Department on the basis of racism. According to both Stone and Gibson, who was present at the time, the woman had stated that when officers looked at her "black skin and nappy hair," all they could see was "an animal." Both officers claimed that Hoover, in response to the brief, "placed his hands in his armpits and began scratching them ... [as he] started making loud monkey sounds."
The officers then claimed that Hoover had interrupted as Stone attempted to continue on with his brief, saying, "That's what they deserve." Hoover then allegedly knelt down on one knee and began singing "Dixie", while pantomiming punching someone. "Dixie" is a widely-recognized Southern anthem from the 19th century which, like the Confederate flag, holds racist connotations for some. In his report, Stone alleged:
While making a punching motion, Chief Hoover held his left hand in front of him in a gripping motion, as if he was holding a person by the shirt collar. In addition, while singing the words 'look away' Chief Hoover moved his head back-and-forth to his left and right as if he was looking over his shoulder.
After receiving the report, Hoover's superiors placed him on administrative leave. On Monday, Talking Points Memo reported that Hoover had retired, although it was not clear at the time whether he had been asked to leave or whether he had come to the decision on his own.
The incident comes at a turbulent time. Recent police-related shootings and officer deaths have collided to create the perfect storm of tension and distrust between them and civilians. In Delray Beach, Florida on Monday morning, a bartender posted video footage of officers allegedly allowing their police dog to maul a handcuffed man's face as he lay on the ground. At the same time, in Antioch, Illinois, mourners gathered at a funeral service to grieve the death of a Fox Lake officer who had been shot by three men (two of whom were white; the other was black) on Tuesday last week.
Despite the tension, some high-profile members of the community have opted out of commenting on the matter directly. On Friday, Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl submitted a glowing op-ed letter to The Chief newspaper in response to Hoover's retirement, in which she spoke warmly of Hoover's service, but did not mention the allegations against him:
[I] must admit a sadness that the security this community has enjoyed under his watchful duty is at an end. It is evident he loves this community and has protected it with honor and courage. ... I have also heard many compliments from all over the county about our Chief. ... And so I say, thanks Chief Hoover for a job well done. You have this community’s gratitude, gratefulness and appreciation. Enjoy your retirement knowing we will miss you and wish you all the best.
Bustle has reached out to Pohl's office for comment and is awaiting a response.