Oregon Police Chief Resigns After Two Officers File Complaints of Racism
Officers say police chief Marvin Hoover responded to an arrestee’s accusations of police racism by dancing like a monkey and miming punching someone
Alan Yuhas in New York | @alanyuhas
Tuesday 8 September 2015 10.43 EDT
An Oregon police chief danced like a monkey and mimed punching someone to mock a black woman’s threat of a discrimination suit, according to complaints by two police officers about their now resigned boss.
The officers described how the Clatskanie police chief, Marvin Hoover, 56, responded to an arrestee’s accusations of police racism in an official complaint filed with the state department of public safety standards, first obtained by local station KOIN.
“As I began to inform Chief Hoover of the particulars of the incident,” officer D. Alex Stone wrote in the complaint, “I relayed several of the arrestee’s remarks such as, ‘When you look at me, my black skin and my nappy hair, all you see is an animal.’”
At this point, Stone continued, Hoover interrupted him “and said, ‘That’s what she is.’ Chief Hoover then began to act like a monkey. Chief Hoover placed his hands in his armpits and began scratching them.
“Chief Hoover also started making loud monkey sounds: Hooo … hooo … hooo …hahahaha … hooo … haaah.’ While Chief Hoover was scratching and chanting, he started to move around the room, in a dance or jumping fashion. While jumping and moving about the room Chief Hoover momentarily beat his chest like Tarzan.”
Another officer in the room, Zack Gibson, also wrote in the complaint that Hoover “started making sounds like a monkey and beating his chest while dancing around the floor pretending to be a monkey”.
As Gibson looked on “in disbelief”, Stone tried to continue his story, only for Hoover to fall to one knee and begin singing the song Dixie, long associated with blackface minstrel shows and nostalgia for the slave-holding Confederacy.
“I was in disbelief that the Chief of Police was acting in such a manner while an officer is concerned he may be accused of racism,” Gibson wrote.
As Hoover reached the chorus of “look away, look away, look away, Dixie land”, Gibson continued, the police chief “with his left hand acted like he had someone around the collar punching them with his right hand while looking around and singing the song”.
Finally, Stone wrote, Hoover “laughed and then left the room”.
A third officer, Sergeant Shaun McQuiddy, was also in the room, and “offered no guidance” to his colleagues when they said they wanted to make an official complaint. He told them “he would not lie” but warned Stone that “he didn’t believe anything would happen to Chief Hoover and that the City would make life hell for us for doing this”.
A request for records pertaining to Hoover’s alleged misconduct was denied because documents are “part of an active investigation” and exempt from disclosure, spokesperson Rebecca Hannon told the Guardian.
Chief of police since 2002, Hoover was placed on paid administrative leave on 5 August, about two weeks after the officers filed their complaint. He resigned in early September, after a law firm conducted an investigation into his conduct.
Stone, who is white, told KOIN that McQuiddy’s fears of retaliation were not unfounded. Since reporting the incident, “my wife’s been forced off the road twice”, he said. “I’ve had people in the community yelling the N-word at me.”
Clatskanie’s mayor, Diane Pohl, who worked with Hoover for more than eight years, described him in a letter to the local paper as “an honorable man and officer”.
In 2011 Hoover received the medal of valor from the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police as an award for his capture of a man accused of murdering the police chief of nearby Rainier.
“Enjoy your retirement knowing we will miss you and wish you all the best,” Diane Pohl wrote, omitting any mention of the paid leave, investigation or complaint. “Just take it easy on the elk, bear and fish that you will have more time to pursue!”