Salem City Council Chambers. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
The vice chair of the West Salem Neighborhood Association resigned Monday after an ethics investigation said remarks he made about people protesting police brutality warranted a public apology.
Mark Coutis, president of construction company International Construction Blasting and Mining, resigned during Monday night’s neighborhood association meeting held via Zoom.
Association Chairman Kevin Chambers, on consultation with Salem city staffers, formed an ethics committee in June to investigate Coutis.
In findings dated Monday, Aug. 10, the ethics committee found that Coutis in a Facebook post said people protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement should “get their asses tied to a tree and whipped!!”
DOCUMENT LINK: Ethics findings
The committee found that Coutis was responsible for social media posts that “denigrated others for their opinions, called people names, used profanity and created a hostile and unwelcoming environment.”
The report said that Coutis, who was the site administrator for the association’s Facebook page, told an individual who wasn’t a west Salem resident to quit trying to join the page.
“Weasel boy, you didn’t adhere to the rules,” the report quoted Coutis as telling the applicant.
The committee said that the association had been “compromised” and the public perception of group “negatively affected.”
The committee recommended that Coutis “submit a genuine apology to the WSNA membership for his derogatory words and insulting behavior” and that he be banned from acting as moderator on the association’s Facebook page for a year.
In response to the ethics committee’s findings, Coutis said in an email to Chambers, “I will never apologize for what I said about the destruction of public property. I will never apologize for telling the truth. I will never apologize for my right to free speech either!”
He went on to say that anyone who doesn’t support the police is a fool and supports crime.
The committee’s findings and Coutis’ response were first reported by a Salem blogger, Brian Hines.
Salem’s neighborhood associations are independent and aren’t under the purview of city government, although they often act as a conduit between the community and city council.
Chambers said Tuesday that he’s received threats from Coutis since, saying he’ll sue the association and Chambers for defamation of character.
He also said he’s received death threats from people in the community who blame him for the comments Coutis made.
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Have a story tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.