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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A broken jaw left one man with a different perspective on police after last year’s protests in Spokane

Jordon Graham’s jaw was broken by a less-lethal round fired at him by police in downtown Spokane during George Floyd protest that turned into a “civil disturbance” on May 31, 2020.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Most days, on the way to his job at Pistole Boardshop, Jordon Graham passes the spot where a rubber bullet struck him in the face and broke his jaw.

Graham, 28, had his jaw wired shut for six weeks following the May 31 protests over George Floyd’s death. He lost 30 pounds, making his small, typically 160-pound frame skeletal.

“My humor is, like, weird,” Graham said of reliving the experience daily. “It doesn’t get me like stressed or PTSD or anything like that; it is what it is.”

The amateur skateboarder had headed downtown that night to help protect Pistole, the skate shop that sponsors him to compete at events up and down the West Coast. If the store had been vandalized or looted, the locally owned business may not have been able to sponsor as many athletes, Graham said.

Hoping to deter damage, Graham and some friends went to see what was going on.

Officers told Graham and his friends who were on skateboards to leave, so they started backing up and out of the area near the Bank of America building.

“They’ve acknowledged that we’re leaving,” Graham said. “Then, like, last minute, we’re, like, all the way up the block and then some dude decided to pull the trigger.”

He was hit with the rubber bullet on the upper portion of his mouth, breaking his jaw.

“I just thought it was, like, so ironic that they shot the one Black person in the whole area, and that’s what this whole thing is about,” Graham said. “I’m not going to go out of my way to say it was, like, a collective consensus, but I definitely think that whoever did pop it off probably had some bias.”

At the hospital after he was shot, police did a “textbook good cop, bad cop” routine on him, insinuating it was his fault he got shot, Graham said.

Now a year later, Graham has gained back the weight he lost, but not his trust in police.

Being biracial, Graham had experienced racism in typical ways like comments from friends’ parents, he explained, but never from an authority figure.

“It impacts my mentality, because I’ve had a pretty decent time with police in situations where I got pulled over and stuff,” Graham said. “It’s definitely dissolved the respect and relationship I had with police.”

While he was downtown that night, Graham said the most aggressive thing he saw done to police, who were in full riot gear, was protesters throwing water bottles at them.

He questioned why officers couldn’t handle the situation without being violent.

According to police, they targeted protesters who were being violent toward them and arrested many of them.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Jordon Graham’s name.