Allegations of Racial Slurs in Cd’A Leads to KCTFHR Presser

KCTFHR Secretary Tony Stewart speaks at a press conference in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on March 26, 2024.
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According to Chief White, no potential victims or suspects have been identified by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department at this time.

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations (KCTFHR) held a press conference at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, to speak about an alleged racially motivated incident from Thursday, March 21, in downtown Coeur d’Alene. KCTFHR Secretary Tony Stewart spoke on behalf of the organization stating it promotes, “civil and human rights, diversity, inclusion, and social justice, the cornerstones of a democracy.”

The details of the alleged incident remain vague. According to a piece published by Josh Furlong with on March 26 at 12:53 a.m., the University of Utah’s women’s basketball team was billeted at a hotel in Coeur d’Alene while participating in a NCAA tournament in Spokane, Washington, when members of the team were called racial slurs by a passing motorist while they walked to and from a restaurant for dinner on the evening of March 21. Stewart’s opening remarks echoed the published piece by Furlong, while additionally claiming his organization received information from “a reliable third source.”

The name of the restaurant is unknown at this time, as is the exact route the members of the team traveled on their walk.

By Stewart’s own admission, no one within the KCTFHR has spoken directly with any of the alleged victims or witnesses to the incident. The same is true of Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond who said he only spoke with a Washington based security officer who was attached to the team. Hammond did not disclose whether the security officer confirmed or denied the events as reported. Hammond spoke as a guest of the KCTFHR and said he wanted to “embrace and hold” the young ladies to ease their hurt.

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond speaks at the KCTFHR press conference on March 26, 2024, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Another guest of the KCRFHR was Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White, who issued a brief  statement. White said his department was made aware of the complaint around 10:00 p.m. on March 21, roughly four hours after the alleged incident occurred. “It was reported that a vehicle drove by and several racial slurs were yelled by the occupants of the vehicles,” White stated.

White said the city’s police department currently has an open investigation, but has yet to speak with any of approximately 100 individuals who were reported to be within the vicinity of the incident when it occurred. They also have not identified any suspects or potential victims. “At the time of the report, we were unable to speak to any of the potential victims of the incident,” stated White. “Nor were we able to locate individuals who yelled the racial slurs.”

“Our detectives are actively seeking video of the incident,” stated White. He requests anyone with information or a witness to events in the downtown area on the evening of March 21 to contact the Coeur d’Alene Police Department. Furthermore, White said his department is working cooperatively with the FBI.

Both Stewart and Hammond issued official statements condemning the alleged racially motivated incident. A factual accounting of the events has not been completed, and there has not been a determination that a crime occurred.

In response to a question posed by the media, White said there are potentially two Idaho statutes addressing malicious harassment and disorderly conduct, as well as a federal statute, that may be applicable if an investigation determines the complaint is factually based.

The press conference was abruptly ended by Stewart after a question was asked about alleged police misconduct during the investigation and prosecution of an incident from July 2022.