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20-Year-Old White Oregon Man Brags About Destroying a Memorial. It Was for a Black Man Who Took His Own Life After Losing His Father to Cancer.

An Oregon man was arrested on Thursday, Aug. 12, and charged with second-degree criminal mischief, abuse of a memorial and second-degree bias crime after he painted a swastika on the memorial of a Black man who died at the Clackamas County Jail.

Collin Williams, 20, posted a video to social media under a pseudonym of him destroying the memorial with the caption “I unenthusiastically commit a hate crime.” Another post said, “I also spray-painted a fun German windmill on the sidewalk for good measure. DM for the pic.” 

Collin Williams spray-painted a swastika on a memorial for Jermelle Madison, who died in July. Photo: DoubleSidedMedia; Pamplin Media

On Tuesday Aug. 10, candles were knocked over, picture frames were broken and a swastika was painted on the sidewalk near a memorial for 23-year-old Jermelle Madison. Madison died on July 3 at a hospital after being found unresponsive in a jail cell on June 28 after hanging himself.

Madison’s family says he started getting into legal trouble and found himself facing mental health issues after his father was diagnosed with cancer in December 2020. He was admitted to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation. At one point, he was deemed mentally unfit to answer to the criminal charge. But after not appearing to a hearing after his father died on May 29, Madison was arrested on June 20 an outstanding warrant. His family said they requested Madison be placed on suicide watch.

“We all were so hurt and disappointed just because we put that memorial out there for Melle,” Caysha Clayton, who spoke for the family, told Oregon Live. “We didn’t think anybody would even pay attention to it.”

Detectives spotted Williams’ vehicle on surveillance footage near the crime scene at the time the memorial was vandalized. Local retailors also assisted in providing information about recent purchases of spray paint. Oregon City police found spray paint and other evidence in his vehicle and Williams later admitted to destroying the memorial. He was placed in jail on $7,500 bail.

“Mr. Williams was cooperative with detectives and admitted painting the swastika and destroying the memorial,” police chief Jim Band said. “The cans of spray paint, along with other evidence, was recovered from Mr. Williams’ vehicle.”

Credit: Oregon City Police Department

Clackamas County Administration identified Williams as a county employee.

“We do not tolerate hate in this county,” said Clackamas County Administrator Gary Schmidt. “We do not tolerate hate crimes towards anyone. At Clackamas County we strive to create a safe and prosperous environment for all members of our community. The crime charged against one of our employees does not reflect the values of the county and our employees. We have deep sorrow for community members and employees who may have been harmed by this act.”

The spray paint has been removed by county employees.

Madison’s family is attempting to determine how the man was allowed to commit suicide while in custody at the jail. Court documents show Madison underwent a psychiatric evaluation at the Oregon State Hospital and was deemed unfit to proceed with criminal proceedings at one point.

“He should still be here,” Clayton said.

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