The City of Spokane announced Thursday it's investigating whether the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP violated the city's code of ethics in her application to serve on the citizen police ombudsman commission.
Rachel Dolezal serves as chair of the independent commission, in addition to her work as an adjunct faculty member at Eastern Washington University and president of the NAACP local chapter. On her application to serve on the commission, she identified herself as African-American. But public records, including Dolezal's own birth certificate, list her biological parents as Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal of Montana. The Dolezals told KXLY Thursday that Rachel is their biological daughter and that they are both white.
"We are committed to independent citizen oversight and take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission," Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said it a joint statement Thursday. "We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated. That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions."
On the NAACP Spokane Facebook page, a picture was posted earlier this year showing Dolezal and an African-American man. In the post, he's identified as Dolezal's father. KXLY4's Jeff Humphrey asked Dolezal about that claim Wednesday afternoon.
"Ma'am, I was wondering if your dad really is an African-American man," Humphrey asked.
"I don't understand the question," Dolezal answered. "I did tell you [that man in the picture] is my dad."
"Are your parents white?" Humphrey asked. At that point, Dolezal removed the microphone, ended the interview and walked away.
KXLY4 was interviewing Dolezal Wednesday about several hate crimes she's reported over the last several years. Most recently, Dolezal said she received a packet of hateful letters and pictures at the NAACP post office box in North Spokane. That crime led to rallies of support outside Spokane City Hall.
Police are still investigating, but say in reports that whoever placed the mail must have had access to the box, as it was not processed through the regular mail. Dolezal denied any implication that she was responsible.
Dolezal says she's been the victim of eight documented hate crimes in Idaho; a public records request filed by KXLY yielded just three reports. Each was closed by police because of insufficient evidence to prosecute.