Questions raised about NAACP hate mail report
SPOKANE, Wash. — A police report raises questions about reports of threatening hate mail sent to Spokane’s NAACP president. Major Crimes detectives have concluded that the mail was never processed, despite showing up in the organization’s post office box.
Rachel Dolezal, president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, said she found an envelope containing threatening mail in the post office box on North Monroe in February. The 20 pages of notes included pictures and lynchings and words like “war pig.”
“I was immediately struck by guns pointed towards me,” Dolezal told KXLY of the pictures in February.
Spokane Police took possession of the envelope and dusted for fingerprints. Investigators then went back to the Rosewood post office where the NAACP gets its mail in a locked box.
Postal workers told detectives the envelope had not been canceled, time stamped or imprinted with the bar code that directs mail to the right destination. According to the police report, the postal inspector told detectives, “The only way this letter could have ended up in this P.O. box would be if it was placed there by someone with a key to that box or a USPS employee.”
Police then interviewed the three postal employees who put mail in post office boxes and none of them remember seeing the envelope. They all said they’ve never seen mail end up in a box without the barcode. All three said, at the very least, they would have canceled the stamps.
The detective wrote, “I have no reason to believe any of these employees were involved in putting the letters in this post office box.”
Customers who rent post office boxes are given two keys; the locks are changed every time the box changes hands.
The police investigation continues. Detectives found no usable prints on the envelope or the materials inside. They submitted DNA, which belongs to a male, but does not match any DNA in regional criminal databases.
No suspects identified in other hate crime reports
As Spokane Police continue their investigation into who placed hateful mail in the mailbox of the Spokane NAACP, KXLY tracked down past hate crime reports made by Dolezal.
Dolezal told police she was especially concerned about the hateful mail she found in the organization’s P.O. box in February because of past hate crimes committed against her. Dolezal teaches classes at Eastern Washington University and, in her online bio, describes being the victim of “at least eight documented hate crimes [targeting her] and her children during her residency in North Idaho.”
KXLY4 made a public records request, which yielded three reports.
November 2009: employees at the Human Rights Education Institute reported finding a swastika stuck to the side of the building. Police interviewed Dolezal and dusting for fingerprints, but found no match. Security cameras which operated at the facility did not record what happened and the case was closed.
April 2010: Dolezal reported someone left a vulgar and threatening phone message, saying she favored the dark-skinned students in her class over the light-skinned students. Police determined it was a one-time call and they didn’t have evidence to prosecute.
June 2010: Dolezal reported finding what she believed was a rope fashioned into a noose hanging outside her Coeur d’Alene home. She told investigators she felt threatened by the noose because someone had threatened her at work about her ethnicity. Investigators talked to a neighbor who owned the property. He told them “he hung a deer up there [about a year ago] and he believes the rope is from that time.” He told investigators that he mentioned that information to Dolezal. Investigators say they called Dolezal, but she never returned their call and the case was closed.
KXLY was not able to find any of the other hate crimes which Dolezal reported in North Idaho. She also reported someone placed a noose on her porch in Spokane in 2009, but no suspects were identified and the case was suspended by Spokane Police.
When reached for comment on this story, Dolezal said she is disappointed that like so many other times she reported hate crimes against her and her family that the subsequent police investigations did not result in an arrest.
When asked, since she had a key to the post office box, was it possible she put that envelope in there herself, Dolezal said: “I don’t know if I even have any words for that because, as a mother of two black sons, I would never terrorize my children and I don’t know any mother, personally who would trump up or fabricate anything that severe that would affect her kids.”