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Statesman Journal

Salem Statesman Journal 03/09/2013

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Theres a lot of racism and discrimination that exist here that people dont want to talk about.

Hate crime victim

Dau Tucker, a human resources manager for Salem Hospital, was the victim of a hate crime when on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, she found a bullet on her desk and the words Leave (racial epithet) or die written in her office. Tucker says she and her family have experienced numerous instances of racism in her two years in Salem. THOMAS PATTERSON / STATESMAN JOURNAL

Racial threat to Salem Hospital manager prompts a broader look at community

By Saerom Yoo
Statesman Journal

Salem police are investigating the incident, and Salem Healths security team is conducting an internal probe. Beyond the walls of the hospital, Tuckers story has sparked discussions on racism, discrimination and hate among special-interest groups in the community. Does Salem have a problem? Tucker, a human resources manager, soon had escorts taking her to and from meetings. Her locks were changed. Access to her schedule has been limited. Still, Tucker hasnt

See this story at news for a video of Dau Tucker describing her reaction when she found a racist death threat in her office.

Dau Tucker is part Vietnamese and part African-American. Her whole life growing up on the East Coast, she says, she never felt like a minority. That was until she walked into her private office in a secure area of Salem Hospital one January morning. It was Inauguration Day, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But that didnt occur to Tucker until later. What stared Tucker in the face at that moment was a bullet placed on her desk and a crudely scrawled death threat, using the N-word, on her wall. Leave (racial epithet) or die.

been able to shake the fear of being a target in the community. It doesnt help that while this incident has been the most wrenching, she and her family have experienced racism in Salem regularly since mov-

ing here about two years ago. Ive met some really great people, she said. But theres a lot of racism and discrimination that exist here that people dont want to talk about. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that almost half of the hate crime incidents in the United States that were motivated by bias against one social group were racist in 2011. And about half of the hate crimes against people, as opposed to property, were categorized as

See RACISM, Page 3A

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Salem Statesman Journal 03/09/2013

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The bullet left on Dau Tuckers desk. THOMAS PATTERSON / STATESMAN JOURNAL


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The following are statistics for the United States reported in December 2012 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The numbers were reported by law enforcement in 2011. Of the 6,222 reported hate crimes, 6,216 were single-bias incidents 46.9 percent were racially motivated. Of the 4,623 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons, 45.6 percent were categorized as intimidation. Of the 2,611 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, 81.4 percent were acts of destruction, damage or vandalism. Of the 2,917 hate crime incidents motivated by racial bias, 33.7 percent took place in or near homes. Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation





intimidation. Lt. Dave Okada, spokesman for Salem police, said the department recorded 12 to 15 hate crime incidents annually the past several years. But the severity of the incidents range vastly from graffiti that could have a bias element to a fight. He said the investigation of the particular incident at Salem Hospital remains active and that he couldnt elaborate further. Tucker said shes appreciative of how her employer has responded to the episode. The next day, CEO Norm Gruber sent a memo to employees about the threat, emphasizing that racism and discrimination are not tolerated in the organization. We are outraged by what has occurred, Gruber wrote in the email. It is contrary to our organizations values and something that we find to be abhorrent. Because Tuckers office is in a secure area, officials believe the perpetrator is an employee. Gruber said he and another executive at Salem Health have received death threats in the past, as well, although they werent racially motivated. He takes them to be a part of being in a powerful position in the organization, and he suspects Tuckers position in human resources might have made her a target also. Laurie Barr, vice president of human resources, said there were two terminations in the last several years involving an employee making inappropriate comments about Hispanic people in separate incidents. Gruber says he hopes to foster a culture where all the employees of Salem Health take responsibility to address discrimination. This isnt just an administrators problem, he said. This is everybodys problem. And creating a safe environment for people of all backgrounds is an evolving effort. For example, patients have refused care from certain nurses and physicians because of their skin color, indicating a need to set a clear policy, Barr said.

If you or someone you know are a victim of discrimination or a hate crime, the following are some groups that can help. Contact the Salem Human Rights and Relations Office at (503) 588-6255. Find information and file an online complaint form at humanrights. Call the Salem Police nonemergency line at (503) 5886123. Contact the Salem-Keizer chapter of NAACP at (503) 566-8876 or P.O. Box 13068, Salem, OR 97301.

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We cant accommodate discrimination, she said. More than 85 percent of Salem Healths 3,830 employees are Caucasian, according to voluntary self-reported data. The largest minority group is Hispanic or Latino, at almost 8 percent. Less than1percent 29 employees identified themselves as African-American or black. Fifty-eight people reported themselves as mixed-race. Greggery Peterson, a past president of the Salem-Keizer chapter of NAACP, said that while Salem is not a racist community, it needs to do a better job of embracing its minority members. They just dont know how to, I guess, he said. African-Americans have trouble feeling comfortable in Salem because there isnt a big community here, Peterson said. He hopes the NAACP can help be a support, especially to those new in town. Part of the solution, Peterson said, is more hiring and recruiting of African-American employees by major employers as well as more African-American representation in community organizations. Peterson, who owns a cafe on Broadway NE, serves on the boards of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and Marion County Commission on Children and Families. Hes also concerned that organizations are disregarding less-serious reports of racism such as if a student or an employee is called a racial slur.

How do we as a community express zero tolerance?


A past president of the Salem-Keizer chapter of the NAACP

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We need to have in our community zero tolerance, Peterson said. How do we as a community express zero tolerance? Stanislav Vysotsky, assistant professor of sociology at Willamette University, said Tucker isnt the only one victimized by the incident. He said as people learn about Tuckers story, other AfricanAmerican people in the area will feel targeted as well, not unlike the effect of a terrorist threat. The incident has meaning outside of the one person being targeted, Vysotsky said. The visibility and prominence of Salem Health as an organization amplifies the impact of the event, he said. Vysotskys research focuses on racial prejudice and hate crimes, specifically hate groups and their opposition. Gruber said the incidents of racism experienced at Salem Health are a reflection of a problem that exists in the greater community. For Tucker, Salem Hospital was the one place in her new city where she felt safe and welcomed. Now, the small sense of security has been stripped from her. My husband is saying to me, Im afraid youre going to go to work and not come back one day, she said. But discrimination will not chase Tucker into hiding and it will not silence her. Shes trying to be an example to her children who have also been targets of racism. She wants to be a part of the solution. Its really important that theres awareness that this occurs, Tucker said. This is a topic that no one wants to talk about, but it happens every day., (503) 399-6673 or follow at
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