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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Human Rights Commission seeks investigation of Spokane jail deaths

A federal investigation is needed following the deaths of four people at the Spokane County Jail since May 4, the Spokane Human Rights Commission says. The request was sent two months after the county won a competitive federal grant to address jail overcrowding and just before the Justice Department released a report finding that in-custody deaths nationwide increased for the third straight year in 2013.

Spokane NAACP requests restart of hate mail investigation

NAACP leaders have asked the Spokane Police Department to restart investigations of who sent hate mail to the local chapter of the civil rights organization. Police announced last week that they were suspending their investigation of a claim made by the group’s former president, Rachel Dolezal, that she received a package of threatening material in the chapter’s post office box. Documents released by police last week showed that the envelope had not been date stamped and likely had not been processed by the U.S. Postal Service.

Shawn Vestal: It took a while, but cruel news spread fast

All day Saturday, Alison Collins was waiting for something to happen. For the police to stop by with follow-up questions. For the news media to report what had happened. For the community to stand up and say … something.

Two men arrested in beating of transgender woman

Two men suspected of beating a transgender woman in downtown Spokane were arrested Tuesday, eight hours after police sought the public’s help to identify the attackers. The victim of the attack, Jacina Carla Scamahorn, said she was at Boots Bakery, 20 W. Main Ave., Friday night when she was beaten by two men, who broke bones in her face.

Spokane’s SWAT unit renaming met with skepticism

In Spokane, SWAT is no more. The police department has rebranded the decades-old team of officers trained in tactical response as the “Emergency Response Unit,” as it seeks to broaden the skills of team members. Assistant Chief Rick Dobrow, who leads the department’s operations, said the switch reflects the increased training in medical rescue and crisis management former SWAT team members will receive in the coming months.

Awards recognize local efforts on betterment of human rights

For Spokane’s Human Rights Commission, choosing honorees for the first of what the organization hopes will be annual diversity awards meant winnowing decades of work into snapshots. “Some of these seemed to be almost lifetime achievement awards,” Mayor David Condon said Thursday morning before a crowd of about 40 people, including 12 nominees in three categories.

Rights panel poorly understood

Controversy over a proposed deal to rehire a Spokane police sergeant after he was fired for an off-duty drunken driving collision has focused attention on an often-misunderstood state agency involved in the settlement negotiations – the Washington Human Rights Commission. The deal called for the city of Spokane to rehire fired Sgt. Brad Thoma and purported to be mediated by the Human Rights Commission, based on a claim that the city failed to accommodate the officer’s disability of alcoholism. However, Sharon Ortiz, the commission’s executive director, said she had not signed off on the deal that had been brokered by an investigator in the commission’s Spokane office and that it would need further review.

Clark: Click heels and repeat: There’s no disgrace like Thoma

One day Spokane Mayor David Condon declares there’s no good way out of the Brad Thoma tar pit. The City Council, he says, must vote to put Thoma back on the police force as a detective and reward the drunk-driving, hit-and-run disgrace to the badge with a quarter million-plus in back pay and lawyer bucks.