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The Oregonian's Sense of 'News Judgment' - Deaf, Dumb and Indifferent to RacismTim King Salem-News.com
Except it is far worse than that.
(SALEM) - This article was originally published January 30, 2013.
Les Zaitz with The Oregonian has dropped his "investigation" into the false conviction of an African-American Oregon prison inmate named Terrence Kimble. I have a feeling there are a few people of color at that newspaper who aren't going to be happy with old Les after reading this. There is no question that Les could be more.
This newspaper, that demonizes the medical marijuana user for sport, and 'officially' endorsed George W. Bush in a Presidential bid, killed the hot button topic of Michael Francke's Murder - and that allowed state officials directly involved in the Murder of this former head of Oregon prisons to breathe a sigh of relief. The 'Big O' even fired the one reporter who would not stop investigating that extremely obvious inside job. As the head of Oregon Corrections at the time, Francke was two days away from giving testimony that would have led to criminal charges against numerous top state law enforcement officials. Oregon courts convicted a patsy for the crime named Frank Gable and the case is such a national joke that John Walsh featured Francke's adjudicated case as an episode of "America's Most Wanted".
I reference the Francke Murder because the Kimble case and others I have covered extensively, in some cases, involve the same officials involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Francke, several years earlier. In dropping this case regarding Kimble that is a glaring example of Oregon injustice, crime reporter Zaitz has taken the unethical side of this newspaper to all new highs, or lows as the case may be.
Terrence Kimble is serving a 19-year sentence for a conviction of 'Sex Abuse'. Mr. Kimble substantiates his claim of being wrongly convicted on many counts, in many ways that can't easily be ignored or dismissed.
His experience in the Oregon Corrections system has been one of overt racism, the blatant direct kind. This has been widely reported by our group.
It seems Mr. Zaitz could have put two and two together and reasoned that, since the point in the first place is that Kimble was convicted falsely, under shades of racism, that attacks against him and other charges could easily be added to hurt his credibility.
Taking the word of a state official at face value is the work of a tool, not a journalist.
Any crime reporter worth his or her salt knows a state prison inmate creates endless problems for themselves when they choose to fight another inmate, and God knows that striking a state officer is a serious offense. Kimble has tried and tried to avoid problems and has only, he explains, responded physically when his life was literally at risk from a physical attack.
Zaitz cut his interest in the case over alleged, unreported contacts between Kimble and inmates and guards, but they have absolutely nothing to do with his false conviction. It is painfully obvious that this tool of a reporter was told what Oregon Corrections wanted him to hear, and he didn't even have a big enough set to question it. The state of Oregon is in bad shape when people like this are charged with being the watchdog.
I swear it is like the Oregonian reporter didn't learn the first thing in his career. I was in close contact with Coleman and Kimble during the window of time when Zaitz made a total of ONE visit to see Kimble. He did what he did because he was told to. I don't believe he was doing anything but going through the moves and looking for his first chance to drop the story.
He should have known that Kimble's life was threatened by staff at the prison in Ontario, Oregon, since it was PUBLISHED already. (See below)
The ONLY reason the Oregonian reporter Les Zaitz took the story under consideration at all is due to the far-reaching mind of a former prison guard named William Coleman who blew the whistle over racism in the Oregon State Penitentiary when he worked as one of the facility's few African-American Corrections Officers.
I admit it was partly by my suggestion that Mr. Coleman contacted Zaitz.. We had been following the stories of prison racism through Coleman and Kimble for a long time, but our 20k a day viewership pales next to the well-established newspaper, so William began emailing and calling Zaitz, who remained evasive, would not return calls he promised to make.
So William decided to write to Zaitz again, about his unwillingness to be a stand up reporter, and he cc'd several of Zaitz's superiors at The Oregonian. This brought spectacular results, soon Zaitz was in touch with Mr. Coleman, promising to really examine the story, which is extremely multifaceted as expected.
But I knew he was blowing flakes.
Guys like Zaitz don't do the real work or he already would have been paying attention. His hand was forced, but I knew or strongly suspected, and bingo, bigger than you-know-what, he proved to be the guy I always thought he was.
While Mr. Kimble has endured his hellish 19-year sentence, he has been attacked and harassed by guards in the prison system time and time again along with racist white inmates who run the prison population, and he is only one inmate I know of and have written about with very similar stories.
The Lane County court tried to convict Kimble of first degree Rape, but the victim, as it turns out... according to a medical exam, was 'intact' and had never participated in any sex act. So they got Kimble on 'Sex Abuse' and gave him 19 years, even though a DNA test cleared him of the crime. Yup, welcome to Orygun as they like to say, the biggest closet racist state in the union.
What is really funny, (not really) is that a top Oregon official, a married former Senator named John Minnis, had a habit of taking his married secretary to out of state conventions, getting her drunk, and raping her. Minnis got jack shit for a prison sentence, he is an actual rapist, it was proven that he raped the woman, and the state brought no criminal charges against him! That case cost Oregon taxpayers several million dollars in a law suit Minnis and Oregon of course lost. Did I mention that Minnis at the time, was in charge of training Oregon cops at the state's new multi-million dollar, extravagant new training facility in Salem? If you want a real eyeful, see Retracted and Redacted- A Comparison of Two Oregon 'Criminals'.
Another great example is found in the article White Men Can Dance from April 2012, which explains how a Longview, Washington man was released after being held in prison for years on a false charge of rape against his daughter. At the age of 23, she recanted her story about being a victim as a young teenager. She had lied. The only difference is that the alleged victim in the Kimble case has never recanted. It shouldn't take that.
For perspective, the man in this case, Thomas Kennedy, was sentenced to 15 years for repeatedly raping his own 11-year old daughter, which we now are told he did not do. However the prosecutor in the case says the evidence at the time did match the crime. Kennedy got 15 years for raping an 11-year old girl, Kimble got 19 years for sex abuse against a girl two years older. Please absorb that.
Blatant Racism in Oregon
Bear in mind that Kimble, who is African-American, is serving a 19 year sentence for Sex Abuse; the victim in the case was his stepdaughter who according to doctors that examined her after the accusation - had never engaged in sex.
There was no DNA match, no history of sexual misconduct, nothing. She was two years older than Kennedy's daughter at the time of the alleged offense(s).
In the information to the right: "Prisoners in 2010," Bureau of Justice Statistics, one detects an alarming rate in the incarceration of Blacks in Oregon and Washington. The two NW states saw the number of African-Americans behind bars escalate in a significant way between 2000 and 2010.
In nine years, Oregon's Black prisoner population jumped from 10,580, to 14,403, that is a 26.543% increase. This does not match crime statistics for the same window.
This is an illogical pattern, particularly since gang crime largely involving the Black population did surge in Portland, Oregon, and then settled again as though it had never happened, in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The timeframe does not correspond with the spike in imprisoning African-Americans in this region of the country, where Blacks only account for a small part of the population in the first place.
Kimble is falsely accused, wrongly convicted, and a victim of government racism in Oregon's shameful court system out of Eugene, in Lane County.
His story of injustice as a Black man in Oregon is very real, and people in power reading this right now know this is purely the case.
Two Men Against a State Corrections Department
As the years passed in prison, one of the life forces that has kept Terrence Kimble motivated to survive his ordeal and prove his innocence, was the love and support of his mother, Sandra Gayton, who died, tragically, last March in her home. It was very important to Sandra that they would one day see him free of this nightmare.
As referenced, as a prison guard, William Coleman blew the whistle on racism and civil rights violations in the prison and in turn, was charged with 15 counts of cigarette smuggling as a guard. Coleman took his case to jury trial, Terrence Kimble testified on his behalf in court, and Coleman was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict.
Offering testimony on Coleman's behalf, Kimble indicted prison staff in a variety of crimes, particularly bribery, and told the judge and jury that there were in fact, prison staff guilty of the crime Coleman stood accused of, but it wasn't Coleman, some of the names were those of Coleman's superiors.
However those allegations; the most candid information about prison guards deeply involved in illegal activity; the type the state believed was important enough to try to put Coleman away for, for 40 years if convicted, never went anywhere at all. Here you see another huge example of the corruption that literally dominates the culture of the state's legal landscape.
Terrence Kimble and those who know and support him, say he has been the focus of an ongoing retaliation effort by the Oregon Department of Corrections in the years following his support of former Officer William Coleman. Most people reading this can likely imagine, that there are few inmates who go to bat for prison guards as witnesses. It says a great deal about the allegations of racism these men, both Kimble and Coleman, have leveled toward officials. Kimble's mother knew all about racism, as she revealed to Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber in a 2010 appeal.
A mother's love transcends many things, and it is natural for a mother to stand by her son even when he makes mistakes or runs afoul of the law. But there is a stronger, even more passionate level of determination created by a strong belief that a son is rotting behind bars, being abused, having to spend endless amounts of time in solitary confinement because he defended himself from a 'torpedo attack'.
This is an incident where staff send inmates on missions to harass, attack and provoke another inmate into self-defense, which is not permissible, and off to 'the hole' the inmate who was approached, assaulted and offered defense to protect himself, goes.
This has been Terrence Kimble's story time and time again, since he stood up for William Coleman, the guard he knew was a good man; one willing to sacrifice his own career to expose racism in the prison system, and systematic human rights violations, assaults, bribery, even murder.
As mentioned above, Kimble's honest testimony allowed William Coleman to emerge from a harrowing ordeal as a free man. Coleman's support of Kimble is a result of studying his case, and examining the court documents.
It is a simple fact that Lane County Oregon's court in the city of Eugene, has a habit of convicting African-American men of crimes they did not commit.
Kimble was sentenced to 19 years for a crime that no human being committed. He was beaten savagely by the arresting officers in Eugene, Oregon and had to be hospitalized for injuries from the police beating and his injuries which were extensive. Think Alabama in 1955, and you are seeing Oregon in this modern day, and every single person of good conscience should be appalled, angry, writing letters and venting their thoughts.
Finally, I leave you with this video report that tells the story of Terrence Kimble as we see it based on available legal documents, all of which are posted in various Salem-News.com articles. I will also add the links to all of my articles involving Oregon prisons and racism, and there are many.
Previous articles about Oregon's prisons:
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With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
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