Former Poulsbo Port Commissioner Mark DeSalvo has drawn harsh criticism from both the Suquamish Tribe and the Port of Poulsbo after DeSalvo was arrested for defacing a memorial to Stonechild Chiefstick. The July 11 incident marked the second time a Poulsbo resident has defaced the memorial since it was first placed at the park in the days following last year’s shooting.
In 2019, during a crowded July 3 fireworks display at Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park in downtown Poulsbo, Chiefstick was shot and killed by Craig Keller of the Poulsbo Police Department. Chiefstick, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe from Montana, had ties to the Suquamish Tribe and his death has since inflamed relations between the City of Poulsbo and the Tribe. The recent vandalism has prompted the tribe to call upon Kitsap County Prosecutor Chad Enright to investigate DeSalvo for a hate crime.
“In our view, this is a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such,” the statement reads. “Mr. DeSalvo claims to be a law enforcement officer with the right to carry arms on a flight – this incident should end his authorization to act in such a capacity.”
Referring to a memorial caravan for Chiefstick, held just days earlier, the statement from the Tribe, acknowledged the recent vandalism has salted wounds that had yet to heal.
“While some have denied that racism exists in North Kitsap, this action by a Poulsbo elected official makes the hate visceral,” the statement reads. “While some believe our children should attend North Kitsap schools without fear, this action, coupled with the painting of a swastika and racist graffiti at North Kitsap High School this week show otherwise.”
In Poulsbo last week, the port’s board of commissioners addressed the allegations against DeSalvo.
“The Port of Poulsbo as an organization, its commissioners, and staff do not tolerate the conduct displayed by former Commissioner DeSalvo this past weekend. This behavior does not reflect our values as people or as an organization and we do not condone it. Former Commissioner DeSalvo has done the right thing in resigning from the port commission effective immediately.”
“There are no words we can utter to rectify this situation, we understand this has renewed hurts, prevents healing, and justifiably frustrates our community. As members of this community, we understand and share your frustration.”
Of the incident, Port Manager Carol Tripp, said she was “deeply saddened by the destruction of Stonechild Chiefstick’s memorial in Liberty Bay Waterfront Park. I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to the Chiefstick family and especially to his children.”
“My hope is that Stonechild’s children will see a change in the community; a more respectful, compassionate and accepting Poulsbo.”