Housing complex, victim of alleged racial discrimination meet with mediator

Posted at 10:20 PM, Sep 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-11 09:14:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The case of an African-American man and alleged victim of racial discrimination at a Salt Lake City housing complex is now being investigated as a hate crime, according to Salt Lake City Police.

Jack Coleman and his attorneys met with representatives of Friendship Manor in a mediation session Wednesday afternoon, after the Utah Fair Housing Authority filed a complaint on Coleman’s behalf.

The mediation session lasted about three hours, with both sides presenting facts to the mediator separately and together. There’s no resolution yet, but Coleman and his attorney are hopeful for a resolution to be reached in about a week.

“This is the first time I feel like we’ve had a bit of a meeting of the minds,” said Barry Toone, Jack Coleman’s attorney.

Tight-lipped about the details of the mediation, Toone said he felt good about Wednesday’s proceedings.

“We’re pleased about the outcome,” he said. “I’m happy for Jack. I gotta hand it to the mediator, I thought he did a good job. And despite a rocky start, I gotta hand it to Mr. Perry. I thought he behaved like a gentleman today.”

It’s been five months since Coleman moved into Friendship Manor. He said he almost immediately became the victim of racial slurs from other residents, and was fearful for his life after three racially charged notes were left on his door.

“I have to admit, there were times it overwhelmed me,” Coleman said. “It just took my breath away… I just wanted my pain to be acknowledged. I just wanted someone to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and that never happened.”

Coleman’s Friendship Manor neighbor and friend, Bonnie Doone, attended the mediation.

She signed a confidentiality agreement and couldn’t share details of the meeting, but told FOX 13 News: “I’m very disappointed that this has gone on so long. It should have been handled three, four months ago when it first started happening.”

FOX 13 News reached out to Lester Perry, Friendship Manor’s attorney, but our messages and emails were not returned, and he wasn’t at his office when we tried to reach him there.

Toone said representatives of Friendship Manor are expected to come back to the table with some type of resolution or agreement within a week.

Also present but not allowed in Wednesday’s mediation was a member of the Utah Advisory Council of the U.S. Department of Civil Rights. She will be submitting a report of the mediation that will make its way to Washington D.C.