A Washington State Bar Association report on racism in a small town appears to have become more controversial than the racial incidents themselves. The bar is now apologizing for its civil rights review of Hoquiam and Grays Harbor, saying it has no confidence in the accuracy of its own report.
The report, first revealed by Seattle Weekly, was intended to assess the effects of racial incidents in 2004-05 reported by the Weekly. The incidents were confirmed but the bar now says its report went too far in claiming the racial climate is unchanged in Hoquiam, Aberdeen and the county. Bar president Ellen Dial tells the Daily World of Aberdeen:
We intend to issue a written explanation to every media outlet and every individual we know who has been affected by this report. We extend in this letter our most sincere apologies to anyone who has been unfairly or inaccurately characterized or whose actions have been unfairly or inaccurately characterized and to anyone to whom this has caused alarm and discomfort."
In part, the report says Grays Harbor is a community where "the N Word is still used, black children continue to be victimized by threats and physical violence and in which Caucasian children and teenagers wear Confederate symbols upon school grounds." Says Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Stew Menefee, "It sure seems an apology might be in order from this group...the conclusions come to impugn an entire community, particularly Hoquiam, based on these cases and I'm not seeing that based on my experience."In a comment to an earlier Weekly blog post on the bar report, Hoquiam resident Angela Walker, the subject of the Weekly's 2005 story, says the cover story brought about positive changes for her and the town. But the bar report, she feels, is "full of inaccuracies, chronological errors, and mistakes." The lead author of the report last week was removed by Dial from his seat on the bar's civil rights committee and the bar has now delayed release of a "final" version of the report.