Police officers in Clatskanie, Oregon, have filed a lawsuit against their (now former) chief, Marvin Hoover, saying he discriminated against an Afro-American woman who had been arrested earlier. The incident happened in August, but the details were leaked to the press on Sunday.
According to Alex Stone, one of the officers who filed the complaint, it started when he was telling Hoover that the arrestee had accused officers of “racism and discrimination” and said she was going to file a lawsuit against the police department.
“When you look at me, my black skin and my nappy hair, all you see is an animal?” the woman said, as cited by Stone.
His words were confirmed by another police officer, Zack Gibson, who witnessed the conversation.
Allegedly, while Stone was relaying these remarks, Hoover interrupted him, saying, “that’s what she is [a monkey].”
“Chief Hoover then began to act like a monkey. [He] placed his hands in his armpits and began scratching them. Chief Hoover also started making loud monkey sounds.”
Stone added that Hoover then “started to move around the room, in a dance or jumping fashion. While jumping and moving about the room, Chief Hoover beat his chest like Tarzan.”
The chief of police, however, didn’t stop. He started singing “Dixie’s Land”, a song often considered offensive. Critics say it sympathizes with slavery and apartheid in the American South: “In a land of cotton…old times they’re no forgotten…look away…look away…look away…Dixieland.”
While singing, Hoover knelt on his right knee and made punching movements with his right fist.
“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.”
Hoover, 56, was placed on paid administrative leave soon after an executive session of the Clatskanie City Council, which investigated his racist remarks.
Clatskanie Mayor Diane Pohl, who later wrote a public letter thanking him for his work, didn’t mention the “monkey” incident at all.
“It is evident he [Hoover] loves this community and has protected it with honor and courage… There were many daily issues he dealt with as our chief. The list could go on and on. I have also heard many compliments from all over the county about [him],” she wrote.