For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Let's rally for Randall

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— "Rob, we've just crossed into N-ville."

I sat in stunned silence.

Not only was he a well-known figure in the community, he didn't say "N-ville." Each time he uttered it, he filled out the "N" with the remainder of the most vile word in American lexicon.

As I silently looked out the passenger window contemplating what to do, he filled the void by reinforcing his ugly view of a city neighborhood back east.

"Rob, you need to understand. There are blacks and there are N's. These are Ns."

Not only was he a respected voice in the city, he was a department director where I worked. But he didn't control whether I kept my job.

I could have spoken up.

I could have called the bigot out.

I remained silent.

I was a coward.

I was no Randall Nelson.

Randall Nelson has courage.

Randall Nelson in his 15 years of life has exhibited more courage than I in thrice the amount.

Randall's story of fortitude in the face of bigotry is well-known to this community. For years, Randall turned the other cheek and absorbed the racist taunts of a bully. But a year ago this month - having endured more than most of us ever will - Randall stood up and put the bigot down.

Would I ever counsel violence to someone in Randall's shoes?

Not a chance.

Will I ever criticize someone for doing what Randall did?

Not a chance.

Sadly, what Randall faced and overcame still is far too common in a country that has made significant strides in seeking racial equality.

Starting as an investigator with the Washington, D.C., public defender service, continuing as a private investigator working criminal cases, through work as a security consultant and political commentator, I've seen countless examples of individual and institutional racism, including:

n Prosecutors and judges who make charging and sentencing decisions with differing standards depending on the race of the defendant.

n Laws that impact blacks disproportionately to whites typified by sentencing guidelines that impose stiffer penalties for crack cocaine found in black inner-cities than for powder cocaine found in white suburbia.

n A disproportionately high number of people of color wrongfully convicted compared to whites, particularly in death-penalty cases.

Indeed, how many black "convicts" do we need to see walking off death row - cleared of guilt by DNA - before we awaken to the ongoing injustice we all are collectively responsible for?

But there's good news.

I have a second chance to do what I should have done all along.

I have a second chance to right a wrong.

I can help a young man who showed character where I showed weakness.

I can help Randall.

We can all help Randall.

Randall's triumph against his tormentor - and over a prosecution that should never have occurred - has saddled his family with $40,000 in legal expenses.

This Sunday, a tennis exhibition and mixer will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs to raise funds for the Randall Nelson Defense Fund. Those unable to attend Sunday's event can write a check to the fund and mail it to Wells Fargo Bank, PO Box 774888, Steamboat Springs, CO, 80477-4888.

Six years ago yesterday, I pulled a U-Haul trailer into the Yampa Valley and found a new life away from the madness of Washington. I've come to love a community rich in kindness and resources that always rallies to the aid of our own.

Randall is one of our own.

Let's rally one more time.

Comments

justice4all 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes, let us all rally for Randall. We must ,as a community stand by one of our own. Randall was a VICTIM of a very unscrupluous DA (BONNIE ROSTINK) and her less than professional investigator Joseph Deangelo (should be spelled DE O) because there is certainly no ANGEL connected to this man! I would still like to know why they would not charge Randall's agressor under the HATE CRIME STATUTE. There was a clear violation. These prosecutors need to be ushered to the state line. Go out and join us in the support of this young man and his family at the tennis bubble. Make a contribution, no matter how small. Every $$$ counts. This is yet another case where the DA penalizes a victim at her own will and at the expense of the tax-payers. The innocent had to spend an enormous amount of $$$ just to prove his innocence. UNFAIR!!!!!! I urge the citizens of our area to not let this go unnoticed. YOU OR YOUR FAMILY MIGHT BE THEIR NEXT VICTIM OR TARGET!!!!!!!!!!!!

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