Poulsbo port commissioner arrested after allegedly vandalizing Chiefstick memorial

Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Mark DeSalvo was arrested Saturday, July 11 after authorities say he vandalized a memorial to Stonechild Chiefstick, the Native American man with ties to the Suquamish Tribe who was shot and killed by police last year during a July 3 fireworks show.

According to court documents, officers with the Poulsbo Police Department responded to the scene around 11 p.m. Saturday night to find DeSalvo shouting about Chiefstick and smashing glass prayer candles left in remembrance.

According to a statement of probable cause, when police contacted DeSalvo he said the memorial items in the park were placed there “illegally,” and claimed he was exercising his freedom of speech and that it “was time for the memorial to go.”

Detecting the presence of alcohol on DeSalvo’s breath, one officer inquired how much the commissioner had consumed that night, to which DeSalvo allegedly replied, “enough.”

In a Tuesday interview, Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker shot down DeSalvo’s claims that the items were left illegally, calling the alleged actions by the commissioner both “criminal” and “frustrating.”

“This is the second arrest we’ve made related to somebody vandalizing the property that is left down there at the memorial,” Schoonmaker said. “The family, the tribe and the community had a very meaningful event there just a week ago, in which they were mourning the loss of a father, a brother, a son, a friend; that place there is for the family and the friends of Mr. Chiefstick.”

Of the allegations against the port commissioner, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said, “What he did was stupid, very thoughtless, we have tried very hard to close the gap between us and the Suquamish Tribe and to have something like this happen at this time is unbelievably painful and it was thoughtless illegal behavior.”

When asked whether she felt that DeSalvo should step down from his seat on the port commission, Erickson said DeSalvo “needs to look at his behavior and act appropriately, no elected official should behave in this way. I think the port should do some examination and I think that he should do some real soul searching as to whether he has the integrity to do the job.”

Documents filed in Kitsap County Superior court also say that DeSalvo informed responding officers that he was an elected official and later told them “I’m a federal law enforcement officer, too.”

In fact, DeSalvo is a federal flight deck officer, a pilot approved to carry a firearm and whose limited commission applies only on an aircraft.

Fellow Port of Poulsbo Commissioner Mark Singer declined to comment on the matter, instead saying that the port would be issuing a statement.