Clackamas County employee arrested for swastika on memorial
Oregon City police arrested a Clackamas County employee this week for an alleged hate crime after authorities say he spray-painting a large Nazi swastika on the sidewalk next to a memorial for a Black man who died soon after attempting suicide while incarcerated at the Clackamas County Jail.
County Surveyor Collin Michael Williams, who is white, reportedly knocked over candles and broke framed photos at an outdoor memorial for Jermelle Madison, who died after attempting suicide in a Clackamas County Jail cell June 28. Madison died in a hospital July 3.
Williams, a 20-year-old Happy Valley resident, is charged with criminal mischief, intimidation and abuse of a memorial.
Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band said detectives immediately began investigating the incident as a bias crime when the vandalized memorial was brought to the attention of police.
"Over the next day and a half, attempts were made to identify a suspect," Band said. "Detectives reached out to local retailers to locate anyone who might have purchased spray paint around the time the vandalism occurred. Local retailers were quick and eager to assist and an unnamed suspect and his vehicle were quickly identified on the morning of Aug. 12."
The memorial had been set up at the corner of Beavercreek Road and Library Court, adjacent to the Clackamas County Development Services Building on Friday, Aug. 6, as part of a vigil for Madison.
Detectives worked with the Clackamas County administration to review video surveillance from the surrounding area. Although the site of the vigil and crime were not in the view of the security cameras, the suspect's vehicle showed up in the area's surveillance video at the time the crime occurred. OCPD detectives also obtained a subpoena for banking information related to the purchase of the spray paint.
Spray paint and other evidence was also found in Williams' vehicle, Band said. According to police, Williams also posted a video of himself destroying the memorial to social media.
Band said that Williams used a fake name to share a video on social media with the caption, "I unenthusiastically commit a hate crime."
Williams also allegedly posted on social media, "I also spray-painted a fun German windmill on the sidewalk for good measure. DM for the pic."
Williams has worked for Clackamas County since August 2020, most recently as an engineering technician in the Surveyors Office making an annual salary of $44,000.
"We do not tolerate hate in this county," said Clackamas County Administrator Gary Schmidt. "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."
Caysha Clayton, who spoke on behalf of the family to the Oregonian said Williams' arrest was a small victory for Madison's family, who are still searching for answers in his death. Court documents show Madison received psychiatric evaluation at the Oregon State Hospital, and at one point Madison was found to be mentally unfit to proceed with criminal proceedings.
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