A Clackamas County employee has been charged with a hate crime after allegedly spray-painting a large Nazi swastika on the memorial of a Black man who died in police custody.
Twenty-year-old Collin Michael Williams, of Happy Valley, was arrested Thursday after social media evidence was unearthed pointing to him as the person responsible for vandalizing a memorial to honor Jermelle Madison, a 23-year-old Black man who died June 28 while in custody of the Clackamas County Jail.
The memorial had been left at the intersection of Beavercreek Road and Library Court in Oregon City after an Aug. 6 vigil. The suspect also had knocked over candles and broke picture frames that contained photos of Madison.
Detectives were allegedly able to identify Williams’ vehicle in surveillance video in the area of the crime at the time it happened. They also got a subpoena for banking information related to the purchase of the spray paint.
Police say they located a video Williams allegedly recorded of himself destroying the memorial while using a fake name with the caption, “I unenthusiastically commit a hate crime.” The suspect also posted, “I also spray-painted a fun German windmill on the sidewalk for good measure. DM for the pic.”
According to police, Williams admitted he was responsible for painting the swastika and destroying the memorial. The cans of spray paint, along with other evidence, were recovered from his vehicle.
Following his arrest, Clackamas County Administrator Gary Schmidt posted a statement saying naming Williams and saying his alleged behavior was unacceptable.
“We do not tolerate hate in this county,” Schmidt said. “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.”
Williams had worked for Clackamas County since Aug. 10, 2020 — exactly one year before the alleged crimes occurred. His most recent position was as an engineering technician for the county surveyor’s office with an annual salary of $44,000.
Williams was lodged at the Clackamas County Jail on second-degree criminal mischief, abuse of a memorial and second-degree bias crime.
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