In a Monday press release, Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker announced that officers had received a report that items left in Poulsbo’s Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park to memorialize Stonechild Chiefstick — the man killed by a Poulsbo police officer on July 3 — had been thrown out and possibly stolen.
Officers responded to the scene and found the memorial had indeed been removed. Officers began investigating the incident as a criminal case of vandalism and theft and notified representatives of the Suquamish Tribal Council.
Throughout the day officers spoke with several witnesses, which led to the identification of a suspect in the case, however the suspect’s name is being withheld until the investigation is complete, Schoonmaker said.
Officers searched nearby trash bins and recovered most of the items that had been placed at the memorial.
Chairman for the Suquamish Tribal Council, Leonard Forsman released a statement on Tuesday morning regarding the vandalism of the memorial.
“The death of Stonechild Chiefstick has been a shock to his family, the Suquamish Tribe and the greater tribal community,” Forsman said.
“The recent desecration of his memorial in Poulsbo’s waterfront park is also of great concern. We fear that the treatment of Chiefstick and his family is a reflection of a community bias toward American Indians and other people of color. This prejudice is expressed in the behavior of local government employees and officials, including those working for the police and courts, in judging the behavior of our people. The desecration is a symptom of community tolerance of the racist actions of a segment of its population,” Forsman continued.
Forsman noted that this is not the first time the tribes have faced incidents of vandalism, recalling the vandalism of Chief Seattle’s grave in 2000.
“We hope the City of Poulsbo will take the difficult steps necessary to thoroughly address these issues as we all seek to make the death of Mr. Chiefstick the catalyst for change needed to make the North Kitsap community safe for all of its residents,” Forsman said.
At around 6 p.m. on Monday family and friends of Chiefstick returned to the waterfront park to rebuild the memorial.
PPD is reaching out to the community to assist with this ongoing investigation, by asking anyone who placed items at the memorial in Waterfront Park, and feels they are a potential victim of the vandalism or theft, to leave a message at the police department by calling 360-394-9797.