It often seems like when racist white people terrorize, threaten and harass their Black neighbors it’s an uphill battle to get law enforcement to act in a timely matter. Sure, sometimes they get arrested, mainly when there’s recorded proof of their racist, violent and deadly threats, but what about cases where such evidence exists and it still doesn’t seem to light a fire under cops’ hind parts and prompt them to act immediately?
NuBrit’tany Smith and her mother, Tasha, say that, for months, they have been receiving threats from their white neighbor since they moved into the Landings at Morrison Apartments in Gresham, Oregon in June. The mother and daughter told KOIN 6 News that the neighbor, identified as 19-year-old Dominic Austin, has been caught on their Ring security camera pounding on their door, threatening them with a knife, using racial slurs, and threatening to rape and kill them.
“You have to make sure you look outside your peephole. You look at your Ring camera before you exit your home,” Smith said. “Honestly, it’s like you live inside of a jail or something.”
KOIN 6 noted that in one recording, Austin can be heard telling Smith and her mother, “You’re about to get murdered.” Yet, Smith said neither the property manager nor the cops have been very helpful.
“We were terrified, we were upset, we didn’t know what was going on,” Smith said. “Instantly, we took the videos from the Ring camera, attached them to an email and sent them to the Landings at the Morrison.”
From KOIN 6:
Smith says she notified police and property management on June 30 – the day after the first incident – and continued to report the threats. However, for months, she said nothing was done to remove Austin from the complex.
“Part of the rental agreement says that if a tenant should threaten another tenant, the landlord can throw the offender out in 24 hours notice,” Attorney Greg Kafoury said.
According to documents obtained by KOIN 6, Austin was only officially notified by the property on Sept. 8, and an eviction notice was only filed on Monday.
Between that and the multiple calls to 911 Kafoury said both police and property management failed to protect tenants.
“The people who run this very large apartment complex didn’t give a damn,” Kafoury said. “The police didn’t give a damn. And I don’t know how anyone can look at those videos and come to any other conclusion.”
Smith said she reached out to Gresham Police and property management repeatedly and feels the attacks could have been prevented.
“As a Black woman, we, (my mother and me), I felt that we weren’t heard,” Smith said. “I feel that we were not important.”
So, these women have been being harassed by a violent white man since early this summer and it wasn’t until early September that the property manager, not the police, took any action at all against Austin. What if, at any point during that span of time, Austin made good on his treats and harmed or even killed his Black neighbors?
As for law enforcement finally taking action, court records show Austin was arrested Sept. 20 and faces one count of menacing and 10 counts of violating a stalking protective order. Why it took until last week to finally arrest a man who has been harassing and threatening his neighbors for several months, who knows? But the cops still really want the public to know how deeply concerned they are.
Here’s their statement to KOIN 6:
“We are aware of the terrible conduct of the suspect in this case, including statements that indicate the motivation for the crime is hate or bias. We share in our communities’ concern and appreciate the unique impact bias crimes, in particular, have on victims.
Although the suspect has been arrested and is currently in custody, the investigation is continuing. We are working with the district attorney’s office to ensure the suspect is charged with the appropriate crimes.
As with all cases where a concern about our response is brought to our attention, we will review our response to identify ways to improve our service to the community.”
Court records also show that in August, another neighbor in the same building filed a protective order against Austin for similar threats and harassment.
Meanwhile, Smith has launched a GoFundMe page to help her and her mother relocate.
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