Mediation Spurs Hate Crime Investigation
Wednesday, September, 17, 2014
An African-American man who suffered from racial slurs, threatening notes, and other attacks when he moved into a housing complex in Salt Lake City, Utah, emerged from a mediation session partially vindicated as the Salt Lake City Police have agreed to investigate the events as an official hate crime.
Jack Coleman moved into the Friendship Manor housing complex in early 2014 and claims he immediately began experiencing discrimination in the form of racial slurs directed at him from other residents as well as threatening notes containing racial epithets left on his door. He complained to the complex’s management office but no action was taken. He persisted in his complaints with no result for several months, until finally deciding he had no choice but to pursue legal remedies.
After Coleman hired an attorney, the Utah Fair Housing Authority filed a complaint on Coleman’s behalf. In response, the complex management finally responded and offered to enter into mediation, which Coleman agreed to on the advice of his attorney. The three hour session produced no clear agreement, but spurred the local police to open an investigation, and Coleman’s attorney stated he felt optimistic that a settlement could be reached.
The case has wide-reaching implications, as a member of the Utah Advisory Council of the U.S. Department of Civil Rights was present (but not participating in) the mediation, and will be presenting a report on the incident to federal housing and civil rights authorities when the final agreement is delivered.