A white surveyor has been accused of vandalizing a memorial that honored a jailed Black man who died by suicide, and he allegedly went as far as to brag about it online.
Collin Michael Williams, 20, an employee for Clackamas County in Oregon, was arrested Thursday, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The memorial was meant for Jermelle Madison, 23.
According to cops, Williams made a post on social media in which he recorded himself committing the vandalism.
“I unenthusiastically commit a hate crime,” he allegedly wrote. “I also spray-painted a fun German windmill on the sidewalk for good measure. DM for the pic.”
Someone damaged the memorial, kicked over candles and painted a swastika on the ground, Oregon City Police Sgt. David Edwins told KOIN 6 News. The social media post was under a pseudonym.
“The person actually did brag about it, stating ‘I unenthusiastically commit a hate crime,’ which is alarming,” said Edwins.
Madison attempted to die by suicide while at the Clackamas County Jail and finally passed away four days later, according to The Oregonian. His mental condition often shaped his case for a count of attempted use of a weapon. Family asserted Madison was lashing out over his father getting diagnosed with cancer. He had reportedly been taken to Oregon State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation and then considered unfit to face his criminal case. Madison was let go March 23 but did not show up to a June 14 court hearing after his father died May 26. Family said they wanted him on suicide watch because of his mental health history.
Now Madison’s family is in mourning.
“He did end up in Clackamas County Jail, and he did end up hanging himself because he was not watched,” his grandmother Lynette Madison, who is white, told KOIN. She voiced shock and confusion on why the vandalism happened. “And then we had that vigil and it broke my heart that somebody—I mean, it’s just pictures, it’s just flowers, it’s candles. Why would somebody be hateful?”
A judge fulfilled the prosecution’s request for Williams to have a $100,000 bond after the state said his phone records showed many threats to kill government officials, and “a terrifying amount of racist rhetoric.” Williams is charged with criminal mischief, abuse of a memorial and bias crime.
Law&Crime sent a request for comment to his work email, but it is worth noting that a top county official disowned him.
“We do not tolerate hate in this county,” said Clackamas County Administrator Gary Schmidt in a statement obtained by KPTV. “We do not tolerate hate crimes towards anyone. At Clackamas County we strive to create a safe and prosperous environment for all members of our community. The crime charged against one of our employees does not reflect the values of the county and our employees. We have deep sorrow for community members and employees who may have been harmed by this act.”
It looks like Williams will soon be out of a job.
“We are currently in the process of terminating Williams,” Clackamas County Public Information Officer Kimberly Dinwiddie told Law&Crime in an email. We asked for more information on what this process is.
Update – August 16: We added information from Dinwiddie about the county working on firing Williams.
[Screenshot via KOIN]
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