Rachel Dolezal’s misrepresentations may extend beyond her racial and ethnic background.
The civil rights advocate portrayed herself as the daughter of a black Oakland police officer when seeking appointment to Spokane’s police oversight commission last year. That blend of life experiences impressed at least two of those involved in the selection process.
“I thought that kind of background would be beneficial,” said Spokane City Councilman and Public Safety Committee Chairman Jon Snyder.
Former Spokane police Officer Cliff Walter agreed.
“I remember that very clearly,” said Walter, who was on the selection panel at Mayor David Condon’s request and thought someone who grew up in a law enforcement family and was active in civil rights issues would be good to have on the panel.
“She presented herself very well, although I detected a bit of an anti-police bias,” Walter said Monday. “I did, however, feel she would add opposing and necessary views to the discussion and strengthen the commission.”
Now, both men feel misled.
Dolezal, who resigned under fire Monday from her leadership role in Spokane’s NAACP chapter, apparently is white but has been portraying herself as a black woman for years as her stature as a Northwest civil rights activist grew. The man listed as Dolezal’s father on her birth certificate is white and has no law enforcement experience.
Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart have asked the city Ethics Commission to open an inquiry into whether Dolezal violated provisions requiring city officials, including members of volunteer boards, to be truthful.
“Over the past few days, serious questions have been raised about the truthfulness of responses provided by Ms. Rachel Dolezal on her application,” Condon and Stuckart wrote in their formal request for the ethics inquiry. The commission can impose penalties and recommend removal.
Snyder said Monday he’s uncertain if Dolezal may have been referring during the appointment interviews to a black man she’s told some people she considers her father, or father figure.
Dolezal has, in social media and elsewhere, described a former volunteer at the Human Rights Institute in Coeur d’Alene as her father. Albert Wilkerson Jr. is black and has a law enforcement background, but refused to discuss last week whether he’s Dolezal’s father, saying “I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus.”
Earlier this year, in an interview with KYRS radio host Taylor Weech, Dolezal claimed that before her father became a police officer in California, he’d had to flee the “Deep South” because he knocked an abusive white police officer to the ground.
“As a black family in the Deep South, if you had any kind of a negative altercation with a … white cop – where you stood up for yourself – then it would go badly,” Dolezal, who by that time was chairwoman of Spokane’s Police Ombudsman Commission, said during the broadcast.