Olympia City Council Opts for Spin Over Meaningful Reform/More Details Emerge About Ryan Donald

Anonymous local activists have recently distributed hundreds of fliers containing disturbing revelations about Officer Ryan Donald and the Olympia City Council’s response to Donald’s shooting of Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson. These fliers are reprinted below. In them there are a few things in particular to note.
1.) Officer Ryan Donald’s Facebook page included a photo shopped image of Martin Luther King holding a Popsicle with the caption, “I HAVE A DREAMSICLE.” Some may argue that this meme is simply a clever play or words. Others may find it overtly racist. Clearly, Donald thought that it was okay and humorous for a white cop to reduce one of the pinnacle moments of the civil rights struggle into a joke in a public forum- an act of racial insensitivity at best.

Dreamsickle2

This sort of poor judgment seems to be a pattern for Officer Donald. Recent disclosures reveal that he was formally reprimanded by his superiors in the Olympia Police Department three times over the last few years. One time for arresting the wrong person on a warrant and failing to discover the mistake until the person was delivered to the station for booking. Another time for mishandling narcotics evidence.

The most pertinent incident took place in April of 2013. Donald arrived on the scene of a disturbance at an apartment involving ten people. Typically, a police officer would call for back up. Instead, he went into the situation alone and put himself into a place where, “the use of force was inevitable.” He dealt with the situation by physically engaging an aggressive participant. This situation resulted in his exposure to attack by three other people involved in the altercation. Two of those men had to be “placed on the ground” by the Officer as a result and one was injured in the process. This led to Donald being formally reprimanded by his supervisor Sgt. Allen because this incident was part of a pattern in which he repeatedly, “…acted alone in situations where sound police tactics and common sense called for more than one Officer.” Allen indicated that he had counselled Donald verbally and would need to continue to monitor his behavior.

It was exactly this sort of behavior- acting alone in a situation where, “…sound police tactics and common sense called for more than one officer,” that many believe led to the shooting of Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson.

Sources-

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/olympia/2015/06/23/olympia-officer-involved-shooting-personnel-records/29178579/

http://www.theolympian.com/2015/06/24/3790938_personnel-file-shows-pattern-of.html?rh=1

2.) The fliers also contain images of an agenda from the most recent Olympia City Council quarterly retreat. In the photos you can clearly see that ‘Shooting’ had been crossed out and replaced by-

Public Engagement Actions
· Recognize Police Dept. Accomplishments
· Elevate Accomplishments

Photo of the Image from the flier below shown as it was put up at the City Council quarterly retreat
Photo of the image from the flier below shown as it was put up at the City Council quarterly retreat

Clearly, the City Council chose to use their retreat to discuss ‘spin’ rather than serious issues of accountability for an officer who showed possibly criminal bad judgment that resulted in two young black men ending up in the hospital, one of them quite possibly paralyzed for life.
The fliers correctly indicate that we may never know if Officer Donald was motivated by overt racism when he fired on these young men. What we do know with certainty is that he has displayed a pattern of bad decisions which led to the most recent shooting tragedy and should lead to his dismissal. It also quite clear that this shooting places Ryan Donald and the Olympia Police Department squarely within the pattern of systemic racism that results in young black men being shot by police at a rate nearly 30 times higher than whites. If the mayor and the City Council wanted to truly address the issue of systemic racism and internal accountability they wouldn’t cross out the issue of the shooting and instead focus on ways to improve the OPD’s tattered image. Instead they might consider remedies to address systemic problems and prevent unwarranted police violence from occurring again in our community such as-
· Immediate deployment of body cameras
· De-escalation training
· Anti-oppression training
· Civil rights training emphasizing that the police protect and serve all members of the community including suspects and perpetrators
· An independent civilian review board including members of ‘targeted’ communities
· Termination of officers with a pattern of complaints or reprimands as well as criminal charges where warranted
· Changes in leadership if required to bring about a change of institutional culture consistent with the above
It’s clear, the City Council is more concerned with ‘Elevating [Police] Accomplishments’ than actual meaningful reform that addresses systemic racism head on. It is up to all of us to continue to exert our rights and drive change by keeping the pressure on – be it inside City Hall and/or on the streets.
Although the following fliers were not created by Olydocuments, we are excited to be posting them here and thank the people who created and distributed them for working hard to expose the truth.

FLIER ONE-

Understanding the Olympia Officer Involved Shooting
and Why the City’s Response is Racist, Wrong, and Dangerous

The facts as we know them:
At 1:15 A.M. early Thursday, May 21st, 2015 on the westside of Olympia, Washington, white police officer, Ryan Donald, shot two young Black unarmed brothers, Andre Thompson, aged 24, and Bryson Chaplin, aged 21.
These two Olympia residents were initially in serious condition at nearby hospitals in Tacoma and Seattle. Andre Thompson was released from the hospital five day after being shot but has broken ribs and internal injuries. As of June 4th, Bryson Chaplin is still hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down with a bullet lodged in his spine.

According to the local newspaper, The Olympian, of May 22, 2015 the two brothers had been skateboarding at a local park before going to a Safeway supermarket nearby. They picked up some beer and were stopped by an employee of Safeway inside the store but near the entrance and past the cash registers. When challenged, they dropped the beer and took off shortly before 1 A.M., on Thursday, May 21st.

Safeway then called the Olympia police department. Officer Ryan Donald responded and saw Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin a few minutes later, about ½ a mile north of Safeway and near the brothers’ home. According to initial police reports, Donald got out of his police car a little before 1:15 a.m. and was attacked by one of the brother with a skateboard. Donald then shot one of them. First shots were fired only TWO minutes after the initial 911 call.
They fled into a nearby wooded area, and when they emerged, the Officer Donald shot the other brother multiple times. However, according to the lawyer for Chaplin and Thompson, both brothers were shot in the back, (The Olympian, June 4, 2015)
**********

Neither brother was armed. Olympia police officer Ryan Donald was not injured. The initial shooting by Donald seems totally unjustified. Remember we are talking about suspects in an alleged shoplifting incident. It’s worth questioning what level of pursuit was even reasonable in that circumstance. The second set of shots that took place a few moments after the first is a case of attempted murder. Donald cannot claim that he was in imminent danger when he fired the second time.
One of the brothers was questioned hours after the shooting. The other was not questioned that day because he was unconscious. Officer Donald was given more than five days before he was interviewed by local law enforcement and his version of what happened has still not been made public.

The City’s Response:

Initially the City of Olympia responded very quickly with multiple press conferences the day of the shooting. Although city officials promised total transparency, to this day they are “unable” to reveal any details or actual information because the Thurston County Special Crimes Task Force is in charge of the investigation.

It has been a month since the shooting and although the Task Force has finished their report, it has not been made available to the public, “pending information from the Washington State Crime Lab”.

In the days and weeks since the shooting Mayor Buxbaum has been front and center at many community forums. He has taken a decidedly calculated approach at shepherding the conversation away from the officer involved shooting to less confronting and generally more comfortable conversation about “Poverty and Crime”.

In a recent community forum in a largely minority church Mayor Buxbaum said in his opening statement he wanted to have a conversation about poverty and “misunderstandings”. This as if the shooting of two unarmed black men by a white police officer was only a misunderstanding and poverty was the cause. Mayor Buxbaum has echoed those sentiments publicly many times since.
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum presented a report to the council Tuesday with recommendations for “next steps” that can be accomplished in the short term, specifically when “addressing the connection between crime and poverty.” The Olympian, June 17

Victim Blaming, White Washing, and Distraction

Yes, every community needs to have a conversation about poverty and crime. However, in the context of an officer involved shooting a conversation talking about poverty and crime is nothing more or less than victim blaming. It’s an intentional attempt to divert the conversation away from an officer who shot two unarmed men.

When a woman is sexually assaulted and people talk about what she was wearing as a “cause”, it is victim blaming. We all recognize that. When an unarmed black man or two is shot by a white officer and the dialog is about poverty and crime, it’s victim blaming and we should all recognize that too. It’s also important to note that minority populations in our community are not largely marginalized by poverty and asserting that is racist and white washing.

It’s also dangerous because when you point the finger at the victim in any case because it takes the focus off of changing the behavior that caused the victimization. In this case when you focus on poverty you are NOT focusing on racism and excessive use of force.

We should also be talking about the Officer who pulled the trigger.

Why? Because he pulled the trigger, five times.

Is he racist? No one knows that besides Officer Ryan Donald. It’s widely reported that he had highly insensitive images on his Facebook profile, before it was taken down hours after the shooting. These included an image of Martin Luther King Jr. with a heading that read, “I Have a Dreamsicle” and a photo-shopped Dreamsicle in his hand. If that sounds too outrageous to believe you can find those images on twitter if you search #olympiashooting and scroll down. However, we can never really know what was in his head when he pulled the trigger.

Was it racism?

Was it fear based on an unconscious bias?

Was it a failure of the officer’s training?

Could that much force have possibly been justified?

These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves and talking about in this community. Anything else is distraction.

What can you do?

This community has been traumatized by an event and that event is not the alleged or attempted shoplift of a case of beer. This community has been deeply injured by something we all naively thought could never happen here.
Please contact Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and tell him you want to have a conversation about an officer involved shooting of two unarmed men. Tell the city council we will not tolerate victim blaming and we do not want to be distracted from the issue at hand. The issue at hand is accountability.

Mail: Olympia City Council, PO Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967

Phone: 360.753.8447 (City Council office)

Email: sbuxbaum@ci.olympia.wa.us

FLIER 2-

The Radical Rebranding of a Police Shooting

On Saturday, June 20, the Olympia City Council had their scheduled quarterly retreat. Given the recent Officer involved shooting you might think they would have taken time in their retreat to discuss that. However, they didn’t. This image is a picture taken from the whiteboard in their retreat. This item was buried under several other items about ⅓ of the way through their agenda.

Flier Agenda

The City Council doesn’t want to talk about a shooting. They want to talk about elevating police department accomplishments.
Think about that.

Without a doubt any officer involved shooting is a public relations crisis for a city, even more so when it’s a white officer who shoots two unarmed black men. When faced with a public relations crisis you can do one of two things. You can face the hard issues head on or you can rebrand and spin.

Unfortunately it’s clear Olympia is taking the spin approach. Racism is a hard thing to talk about, however even if they don’t have the courage to talk about racism one would still hope they’d be willing to talk about use of force and police brutality. Our city council led by Mayor Buxbaum wants to talk about “crime and poverty” and elevating police accomplishments.

That is rebranding. We are smart enough to recognize it when we see it.

Talking about crime and poverty is victim blaming. We are smart enough to recognize that too.
The current city approach is to do ANYTHING but face this shooting head on and avoid talking about the officer at all costs.
When you look at this image, how do you feel?

If it makes you uncomfortable you’re in good company.

Officer Donald pulled the trigger in the dark at least five times. It’s widely reported that this image was posted on Officer Donald’s facebook page before the page was taken down hours after the shooting. Several screenshots of this page are available online.

Dreamsickle2
However, if the city has it’s way we would forget about Officer Donald all together.

In fact, if the city has its way we’d also forget about Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson.

One of them is a father of two.
One of them was left paralyzed by the shooting.

We are a largely white community. However, make no mistake, no matter how white you are, this shooting still has an effect on you and your family. Our community is defined by how we respond to this tragedy.

White silence is functionally the same as racism. It’s time for us to speak out.

What can you do?
This community has been traumatized by an event and that event is not the alleged or attempted shoplift of a case of beer. This community has been deeply injured by something we all naively thought could never happen here.

Please contact Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and tell him you want to have a conversation about an officer involved shooting of two unarmed men. Tell the city council we will not tolerate victim blaming and we do not want to be distracted from the issue at hand. The issue at hand is accountability.

Mail: Olympia City Council, PO Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967

Phone: 360.753.8447 (City Council office)

Email: sbuxbaum@ci.olympia.wa.us

*-Our apologies for not being able to maintain the original formatting of the fliers above for technical reasons

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s