Spokane Racism

Facts speak louder than denial

“Maxey forces shocked Jackson and the party establishment” — 1970 US Senate Race

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Source: Henry M. Jackson Foundation

Senator Henry Jackson overwhelmingly defeats peace candidate Carl Maxey in the Democratic primary on September 15, 1970.

On September 15, 1970, Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (1912-1983) easily wins the Democratic Senate primary by defeating peace candidate Carl Maxey (1924-1997), a Spokane attorney and civil rights leader. Maxey, the champion of the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party, has fiercely denounced Jackson’s outspoken support for military spending and the Vietnam War. Maxey finishes a distant second to Jackson in the primary, but still wins far more votes than Republican nominee Charles W. Elicker.

The 1970 campaign was waged against a background of great political turbulence, as the Democratic Party, the state, and the nation were rocked by deep and bitter divisions over the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War. The divisiveness frequently spilled over into street protests in Seattle and across the country, reaching a crescendo in May following President Richard M. Nixon’s (1913-1994) announcement that the U.S. military would enter Cambodia. The Cambodia incursion triggered massive demonstrations, and the killings of four anti-war protestors at Kent State in Ohio and two demonstrators at Jackson State in Mississippi led to even greater protests.

Anti-war Challenge

Jackson, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1940 as a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) New Deal, remained firmly liberal on domestic policy for his entire 43-year Congressional career, sponsoring ground-breaking environmental legislation and championing social welfare programs. These progressive credentials meant little in 1970, when the great divide within the country and within the Democratic Party was between pro-military “hawks” and anti-war “doves.” Jackson’s career-long advocacy of increased military spending and his die-hard support for the war made him a leading hawk and anathema to the increasingly dovish liberal wing of the party.

National Democrats active in the peace movement, including Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy (b. 1916), Representative Allard Lowenstein (1929-1980), and economist John Kenneth Galbraith (b. 1908), encouraged state Democrats in the Washington Democratic Council (WDC), an anti-war group, to mount a primary challenge to Jackson. However, no established Democratic politician would take on Jackson, who was not only the most successful vote-getter in the state’s history, but had aided many of them in their political careers.

Carl Maxey

In the end Carl Maxey, the WDC chair, resigned his position to run against Jackson. The first African American to become an attorney in Eastern Washington, Maxey was born in Tacoma and spent much of his childhood in a Spokane orphanage. After serving as a medic during World War II, he won an NCAA boxing championship while in college and earned a law degree from Gonzaga University. As a lawyer, he defended minorities and fought for civil rights, supporting the NAACP and often taking on police, prosecutors, and other local government officials.

By the mid-1960s, Maxey was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, which he saw as unjust and unnecessary and as unfairly impacting African Americans who were drafted into the military at disproportionate rates. Maxey admired Jackson’s domestic views, especially his support for labor, and had worked for Jackson in his first three Senate campaigns. But he abhorred the senator’s support for the war and the draft and his opposition to military spending cuts.

Maxey’s criticism of Jackson was biting. He called him “a Napoleonic little senator,” denounced Jackson’s “platform of a continued draft that kills sons and brothers,” and stated, “Leaving peace in the hands of Henry Jackson is like leaving a lion to guard the Sunday roast” (Prochnau and Larsen, 314).

Attacks Sting, but Jackson Wins Easily

The Maxey forces shocked Jackson and the party establishment by winning the endorsement of the King County Democratic Convention, held in May during the uproar over the Cambodia incursion and Kent State, and by enacting an anti-war, anti-draft platform at the state party convention held in July in Spokane. Jackson was shaken and angered when a demonstration by Maxey delegates disrupted his speech at the Spokane convention.

The repudiation of his positions in the party platform and the harsh attacks, demonstrations, and heckling he endured on the campaign trail embittered Jackson toward his opponents within the party. Despite his liberal domestic record, he increasingly positioned himself as a moderate, declaring frequently “I’m proud of the fact that during my term in the Senate I opposed both McCarthys” (Prochnau and Larsen, 319) — a reference linking anti-war Eugene McCarthy to anti-communist Republican Joe McCarthy who led the witch hunts of the 1950s.

While the attacks by Maxey and the anti-war forces stung Jackson they did not reduce his support among primary voters and may even have increased it, given Washington’s blanket primary system that allowed Republicans to vote in the Democratic race. Jackson beat Maxey in all 39 counties, winning re-nomination with 497,309 votes to the challenger’s 79,201. However, Maxey far out-distanced the remaining seven primary candidates, which included two other Democrats and five Republicans. State Senator Charles Elicker gained the Republican nomination with only 33,262 votes, a showing that foreshadowed Jackson’s record-setting victory over Elicker in the November general election.


Abstract of Votes, Primary Election Held on September 15, 1970 (Olympia: Secretary of State, 1970); Robert G. Kaufman, Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 218-21; William W. Prochnau and Richard W. Larsen, A Certain Democrat: Senator Henry M. Jackson (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), 6-10, 310-21; Bill Morlin, “Spokane Loses a Champion: Carl Maxey – 1924-1997 He Defended Civil Rights and Controversial Clients,” The Spokesman-Review, July 18, 1997, p. A-1; Jim Camden, “Principles Governed His Politics: Maxey Embraced Long-shot Challenges for Chance to Influence Public Debate,” Ibid., July 18, 1997, p. A-8; “Jackson Says: Party Planks Repudiated,” Ibid., September 17, 1970, p. 7; “Favorites Win in Contests for Congress,” The Seattle Times, September 16, 1970, p. A-1; Marsha King, “Maxey Was An Inspiration: Black Attorney’s Example of Activism Cherished,” Ibid., July 18, 1997, website accessed August 13, 2003 (http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com); David Wilma, “Weeks of protests erupt in Seattle beginning on May 1, 1970 against U.S. entry into Cambodia and to protest the killing of four Kent State students,” HistoryLink.org Timeline Library (www.historylink.org). By Kit Oldham, October 29, 2003

Henry (Scoop) Jackson (1912-1983), 1970
Photo by Paul Thomas, Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. 1986.5.51941.1)
Carl Maxey (1924-1997), 1965
Photo from The Spokesman-Review via http://www.historylink.org

Written by Arroyoribera

February 20, 2008 at 12:19 am

Posted in History

Spokane Law Enforcement harassment of Romani-Americans

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1986 — (quote) The Spokane Police Department’s Gypsy File, a document half an inch thick, has determined that crime constitutes our very culture: “scams, theft and confrontations with law enforcement officials is a way of life with Gypsies” (dated 1986, on page 9). (end quote) http://radoc.net/radoc.php?doc=art_f_bias_profiling&lang=en&articles=true

[Recently, as they harassed a Hispanic woman in the Spokane Valley, Spokane Vally Police and Spokane Sheriff’s Deputies referred to an Asian-American fast gas owner on Broadway in the Spokane Valley as a “Gypsy” and a “Hindu”. Police racism in the Spokane area is an undeniable fact, verifiable simply by speaking with members of minority communities in the area].

Written by Arroyoribera

February 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Police, Racism

Walk a Mile in my Shoes — Everlast (Video)

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Spokane Police officer: “I have a job…to get these shit bags out of the park”

You may have read the Spokesman-Review article about the September 19, 2007 forum/chat with Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. The article referred to Carmen Jacoby, an outreach worker from the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS).

I was present at the forum when Jacoby told of being on a “bridge walk” with WSU nursing students at the 4th and Monroe Bridge Park. She described how a Spokane Police officer showed up. Jacoby told Chief Kirkpatrick and the public how she attempted to ask the officer a question to which he responded, “Who are you?”

Jacoby answered the officer, at which point he told her, “I have a job to do. I have to get these shit bags out of the park“.

Offended by the officer’s remark, Jacoby asked the officer for his badge number. The officer then told her to move back or he would put her in the back of his patrol car.

The Spokesman-Review’s report on Jacoby’s statement to the Chief at the forum reads, “Jacoby said the officer used an obscenity to refer to the homeless”.

The obscenity used by the officer to refer to the homeless was “shit bags“.

Chief Kirkpatrick is known for promoting her “zero tolerance policy” on misconduct. Apparently it does not apply either to calling citizens “shit bags” (or “faggots” for that matter) nor does it extend to threatening to put community professionals in the back of your patrol car for asking for your badge number.

Would it be exaggerating to say that the Chief’s once impressive little PR line about “zero tolerance” and her other little ditty about “you lie, you die” are starting to sound a little hollow?

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes, ’cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues


For a complete version of “What it’s like”, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L–IXGV797Y

Written by Arroyoribera

February 11, 2008 at 7:14 am

Posted in Commentary, Poverty, Videos

Zero Diversity in Spokane’s Major Law Firms

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The Washington State Bar Association publication Law and Politics (June/July 2003) ran an article entitled “Gaining and Retaining Diversity: How well do law firms keep their promise of a diverse environment?” by Paul Freeman.

The article and graphic were based on a survey of Washington State law firms conducted by the Washington State Latina/o Bar Association, the Loren Miller Bar Association, and the Asian Bar Association of Washington.

Several law firms did not respond, among them Spokane based firms Lukins & Annis, P.S. (35 attorneys); Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport, and Toole, P.S (50 attorneys); and Paine, Hamblen, Coffin, Brooke & Miller, LLC (55 attorneys).

It is not difficult to see why these firms would not have responded to the survey.

A look 5 years later at the websites for these large Spokane-based law firms shows that they have no attorneys of non-European ethnicity whatsoever. (On the WKDT and PHCBM websites you will have to click on the names of the individual attorneys.)

And this despite the presence of a well-known Jesuit law school — Gonzaga — in Spokane.

This non-diverse reality is reflected throughout the Spokane professional, political, educational, and arts communities. While more than one in ten residents of Spokane is of a diverse ethnic background, that reality is not seen in the offices of government, medicine, law, business, education, social work, religion, or virtually anything else in this community.

The consequences in the application of justice are seen in on the streets and in the court room as recently seen in a well-publicized Spokane court case revealing blatantly racist statements by Spokane jurors regarding an attorney of Asian heritage.

The consequences in the emergency room and in doctors’ offices are experienced on a daily basis by patients who do not receive language appropriate services required under the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and other provisions of law. In Spokane these failures to comply with the law happen on a daily and flagrant basis. As a result, adverse outcomes and deaths have occurred), conditions have been misdiagnosed, and much humiliation and abuse has been suffered (as in the death of 9-year-old Rocio Rodriguez, for example.)

The consequences in the class room are that non-English speaking students do not receive notice of extracurricular and enrichment activities and access to musical instruments in their parents’ languages and thus talented and worthy children are excluded from participation. Beyond that, the larger community and society is denied the fruits of their talents and abilities.

Given that most, if not all, of these matters of access, equity, and justice must be adjudicated in the final instance through the legal system, the lack of diversity in the Spokane legal profession, from law school, to law practice, to public service law agencies, to court room has long-lasting repercussions on the lives of people in Spokane and raises fundamental questions of access to justice which should be matters of major concern for everyone involved in civil rights in Spokane and the betterment of our minority communities.

The time for change in Spokane is long since past. Why has change not come?

Could the answer be “entrenched racism”?


Spokane County Bar Association diversity page

Written by Arroyoribera

February 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

Racial Slurs Result in Spokane Re-trial

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“…people are never forthright with their prejudices … rarely, if ever, will people disclose that”. — Spokane County Superior Court Judge Robert D. Austin

Jurors’ name-calling prompts new trial

By Karen Dorn Steele

The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane County Superior Court judge has ordered a new trial in a medical malpractice case where a Spokane attorney of Japanese descent was repeatedly referred to as “Mr. Kamikaze” and other racially charged names during jury deliberations.

Judge Robert D. Austin said he was surprised when he received attorney Mark D. Kamitomo’s motion for a new trial in mid-December, based in part on the racial comments.

“We’d hoped we’d moved beyond this, and we apparently have not.

It’s upsetting,” a visibly emotional Austin said during a court hearing Friday. Austin said he could not be confident the jury verdict that went against Kamitomo’s client and cleared a local doctor of negligence was not a result of juror misconduct.

“We have uncontested affidavits that these remarks were made. It’s an expression of prejudice to Mr. Kamitomo’s ethnicity,” Austin said.

The trial verdict was read on Dec. 7 – the 66th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

According to Jack Marchant and Mark Costigan, two jurors who approached Kamitomo after the verdict, five other jurors – three women and two men – mocked Kamitomo during their closed-door proceedings. They called him names including “Mr. Kamikaze,” “Mr. Miyashi” and “Mr. Miyagi,” a character in the movie “The Karate Kid.”

One juror also said that because the verdict was going to be read on Pearl Harbor day, the remarks made about Kamitomo were “almost appropriate,” according to Costigan’s affidavit.

In a second affidavit filed Jan. 14, Marchant, a Washington State University professor in Spokane, says affidavits weren’t obtained from two jurors, Patricia Menke and Zorana Beerbohm, who used Asian nicknames to refer to Kamitomo.

“To the best of my recollection, these two individuals and Brenda Canfield, who has admitted to referring to Mr. Kamitomo in her Affidavit as ‘Mr. Miyashi,’ were the three female jurors,” Marchant said in his affidavit. Juror Steven Walther referred to Kamitomo as “Mr. Havacoma,” showing a “lack of objectivity,” Marchant said.

Dr. Nathan P. Stime was the Spokane doctor cleared of malpractice charges by the jury’s “no negligence” finding. His attorney, Brian Rekofke, obtained affidavits from seven jurors as part of his motion opposing a new trial.

Those jurors didn’t deny the names were used, but they said they were used not as racial insults but because they had trouble pronouncing the names of both Rekofke and Kamitomo.

That’s implausible, Austin said, noting that no juror affidavits reported any “bastardization” of Rekofke’s “Middle European” name.

“Frankly, I can’t conceive of people seriously undertaking their responsibility and using those kinds of nicknames when it’s one-sided,” Austin said.

Rekofke asked Austin to bring the jurors into court and question them about their comments.

“The jurors are very upset they are being called a racist jury. They’d like to be heard,” Rekofke said.

Austin rejected that request. “What if they say, ‘I’m not a racist’? What does that do for me?” Austin asked.

He noted that in the history of discrimination cases in the United States, “people are never forthright with their prejudices … rarely, if ever, will people disclose that.”

When the new trial of Darlene and Bill Turner v. Stime is scheduled, Austin said, he’ll need to determine a way to directly address the issue of Kamitomo’s ethnicity during voir dire, the process of selecting a jury.

“At a new trial, we’re going to have a difficult time talking to jurors about Mr. Kamitomo’s ethnicity. But it will be discussed,” he said.

After the hearing, Kamitomo said he was happy with Austin’s ruling. “The judge paid attention and did the right thing,” he said.

Kamitomo grew up in southern Alberta and graduated from Gonzaga Law School in 1989. He also practices in Honolulu.

His father, Doug Kamitomo, was 8 when his family was seized in Vancouver, B.C., and relocated to a Canadian internment camp after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Written by Arroyoribera

February 9, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Courts, History, Racism

The Legacy of Kwame Nkrumah — Noon, March 5, 2008 at EWU’s Monroe Hall

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Dr. Yakubu Saaka, former Foreign Minister of Ghana presents ‘The Legacy of Kwame Nkrumah and It’s Implications for the Future of Africa’

Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Place: Monroe 205

Dr. Yakubu Saaka is currently a professor of African American studies at Oberlin College. Before joining Oberlin, Dr. Saaka was a Member of Parliament in his native Ghana and served for four years as a deputy foreign minister. Dr. Saaka is an accomplished scholar and has published in many areas such as politics, literature, and culture.

Presentations are free and open to Eastern students, faculty, staff, and the Cheney & Spokane community.

(Originally posted at Eastern Washington University Diversity website)

[Listen to Dr. Nkrumah’s 1960 UN Speech]

Written by Arroyoribera

February 8, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Newsroom Diversity Report on the Spokesman-Review — Non-representative but better than its peers

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According to the 2005 Newsroom Diversity report produced by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Spokesman-Review newspaper — the daily newspaper monopoly in Spokane, Washington — is doing better than many of its peers in the industry but still has a minority newsroom staff disproportionately small in relationship to the diversity of its readership.

If the weekly VOX newspaper — a Spokesman-Review production edited and written by Spokane area high school students — is seen as part of the S-R’s efforts to develop the newsroom of the future at the Spokesman-Review, one can see why the Spokesman’s newsroom fails to reflect the diversity of the Spokane region, however small that regional diversity is. And one can see why, unless pro-active measures are taken by Spokesman-Review editor Steve Smith and his staff, the Spokesman will continue to lag in the area of diversity and the ability to see the world from what Spokane homeless and GLBT advocate Dr. John “Gus” Olsen calls “the perspective of other”.

A look at the editorial membership of the VOX is very revealing. A quick look down the left side of The Vox Box blog page reveals the 17 faces — 16 students and one faculty — who make up the VOX editorial staff. A discussion on diversity on the The Vox Box last year resulted in a call from one student for me to be banned from not only that blog but from all Spokesman-Review blogs (“How much of an issue is diversity in Spokane” — part 1 and part 2 at The Vox Box.)

To his credit, Spokesman-Review editor Steve Smith was able to acknowledge and clearly articulate what the overwhelmingly white staff of the VOX could not understand or acknowledge: that diversity in the newsroom is crucial to democratic society and to the ability of a publication to report on, much less understand, the world in which we live. Some of Mr. Smith’s thinking on the matter, including a vow by Smith that in the future the VOX staff will be more diverse, can be found at this post entitled “Diversity in the News” at the S-R’s News is a Conversation blog.

[For those who are unaware, it bears pointing out that Steve Smith is considered a “trailblazer” and a maverick in the journalism business. He is a figure of considerable importance and notice in the world of newspaper publishing for his innovations and explorations of the “transparent newsroom” and “interactive dialogue”, as well as for experimentation in how to integrate the world of the newsprint paper with that of electronic “print” news.]

American Society of Newspaper Editors — Resource on Diversity in Journalism

Freedom ForumFor newspapers to reflect their communities, newsroom staffs and the stories they cover should closely mirror the diversity of the population in the newspapers’ circulation areas. The Freedom Forum is charting an aggressive course to identify, recruit and train people of color for journalism careers.

PBS Online NewsHour — Newspaper editors across the country assert that they’re trying to achieve a better racial balance on their staffs, but many journalists of color say they’re still underrepresented at work.

Written by Arroyoribera

February 6, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Commentary, Diversity, Media