KOTA reporter speaks about racist comments by Alderman Bill Clayton

2013-01-18T15:13:00Z KOTA reporter speaks about racist comments by Alderman Bill ClaytonJournal staff Rapid City Journal
January 18, 2013 3:13 pm  • 

Here are excerpts from an email conversation between the Rapid City Journal and KOTA TV reporter Taisha Walker, who filed a complaint with the city about City Council member Bill Clayton over racist comments made to Walker. The comments reportedly came in a phone interview when Walker called Clayton for comment on a city taxation issue.

According to Walker, who is black, Clayton, who is white, reportedly said to her: "Should we deport you back to Kenya with Obama?” and “Are you even American, are you American?” Clayton has not denied making the statements. The city attorney investigated the incident; the city council has taken no action against Clayton over the remarks.

Rapid City Journal: "Clayton says that 'Taisha Walker and I put this to rest.' Have you forgiven him and put it behind you?

Walker: "Bill Clayton has apologized for the comments he made to me but after I requested in my August 31, 2012 letter to the mayor (which he was carbon copied on) that he do so. The first time, he called to apologize and dispute the accuracy of one sentence in my letter – which had to do with comments he made about opinions and sexuality. He did not dispute the racist comments or those accusing me of being un-American. Weeks later, his attorney Pat Duffy initiated the second apology, which took place in person. He apologized a second time but followed it with excuses as to why he said what he said to me on August 31st.

I have accepted Bill Clayton’s apology but that does not mean that I have put the issue to rest. The alderman has made it difficult for me to do so when he admits his wrongs to me behind closed doors but when questioned about it by others, he fails to come clean. He did not deny my accusations because he knows what I said he said was true."

RCJ: Clayton has not denied saying what he allegedly said to you; nor has he said whether he thinks your account was accurate. And he also said that “Reporters do their best to get quotes as accurate as possible. Generally, they’re not complete and not always accurate.” That seems to imply that your version of what happened might not be entirely accurate.

Walker: "I’m offended by that statement. That was Alderman Clayton’s opportunity to come clean about what he said to me, but instead of giving an honest answer, he turned the tables on me and portrayed me to be a less than capable journalist. That is not the case. In the two years I have been reporting at KOTA, I can count on one hand the number of times an interviewee has called or emailed to say my account of their quotes were 'inaccurate' but I do have correspondences that say quite the opposite."

RCJ: Are you considering further action, rather than just the complaint? And can you tell me what process you went through in filing the complaint?

Walker: It was never my intent to file a formal complaint or to make the issue public. I was contacted by the City Attorney, who was looking into another incident involving Alderman Clayton, as well as other aldermen about using my letter to file a formal complaint. My purpose in doing so was to make the mayor and city council members aware of what was said to me. I also wanted Bill Clayton to issue me an apology.

Do I feel his apologies were sincere? No. How could they be when he can’t even publicly admit his wrongs and come clean to the citizens of Rapid City? While I am a news reporter, I am also a Rapid City citizen. He owes the truth to me, his constituents in Ward 1 and the city. And I’m hoping he will come through with the truth soon.

RCJ: "Can you talk a little bit about your background, how you came to Rapid City and what your general impression of the place?"

Walker: "You can refer to the bio on KOTA’s website which I’ll provide you a link. My family originates from Jamaica (not Kenya) and I was born and raised in New York City. I moved to Rapid City in August of 2010 to work for KOTA. While the night life and the food diversity doesn’t compare to New York, I enjoy living in Rapid City. I enjoy the friendliness of the people, the lack of traffic and the amazing places to hike and explore."

To read the full conversation and more about race in Rapid City, pick up Sunday's Rapid City Journal or read online Sunday morning at rapidcityjournal.com.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) Comments

  1. El Gringo Grande
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    El Gringo Grande - January 24, 2013 12:08 pm
    In the 60s and 70s, being Republican meant standing for law and order. Now it means being a fascist and ignoring the rule of law. I'm a 60's Republican who is now a flaming liberal because my political views haven't changed. Also I obey rules of evidence and logic, something Clayton doesn't believe in apparently.
  2. 321NSHW
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    321NSHW - January 24, 2013 9:17 am
    Good Afternoon my name is Travis I work here at the Native Sun News on the westside here in Rapid City SD and to listen to what william clayton has said is just so digrading ! we listen to large amounts of racist comments like that here at the paper, I service three accounts for advertising 1 from the ``Central Intelligence Agency out of Langley VA,the 2nd from the US Secret Service from Washington D.C.the 3rd from the Transportation Security Administation of WA-D.C. just to name only A few of the Professionals that chose our paper to run there two full page advertisments and these people are real Professionals who sought us out for there ``Diverse Recruting`` out of alot of other different newspapers, and to see and hear comments like that only tells me that people like him are stuck in the 1950`s frame of thought of whites only ``no Indians or dogs or blacks allowed``people need to realize that the times have changed and currently are changing Rapid City is A very good place to live and grow and for william to keep his seat on the city council only tells me that there is ``behind closed door meetings abundent with racist talk still go`s on ``I dont wait for no comments because I deal with racist people everyday I am A business man and am an american for `GOD and Country`` love my United States very very sincerely Travis.
  3. Posey
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    Posey - January 22, 2013 7:42 pm
    --What you described is representative democracy---Which is basically the same as republic--

    --I think the form should be constitutional representative democratic republic--
  4. Posey
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    Posey - January 22, 2013 7:30 pm
    --Read some history of how the parties changed.
  5. Domino714
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    Domino714 - January 21, 2013 1:16 pm
    This is so shameful. It's bad enough to think that a citizen of Rapid City, let alone an elected official, is so narrow-minded. It really gives us a terrible reputation as a city. It's no wonder alot more of our younger people are so eager to move to more diverse and accepting parts of the country.
  6. Ryan77
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    Ryan77 - January 20, 2013 3:08 am
    Did you know the Republican Party was the anti-slavery party?
  7. snideprime
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    snideprime - January 19, 2013 10:44 pm
    We are a REPUBLIC, not a democracy. We are governed by elected representatives, not by a direct vote of the people.
  8. Sherlock
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    Sherlock - January 19, 2013 1:10 pm
    How does the Mayor put up with this Council. Clayton is one of the Mayor's boys along with Roberts, Sasso and Laurenti. The Mayor sets the tone of the City and the tone is pretty bad right now especially with the racial comments. I assume since Roberts and Laurenti wanted to be part of the complaint they should also go as well.
  9. Roland
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    Roland - January 19, 2013 12:58 pm
    The Mayor is driving the train. You give no responsibility to him?
  10. Bonnie Redden
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    Bonnie Redden - January 19, 2013 12:44 pm
    This is a sad event all around--I, as a citizen would like to offer my support to this young woman .Rapid City has many disturbing things taking place and the mayor and the gang of 4 are up to their nose in all of it.This out of control bunch love to throw rocks at private citizens to discredit them and to muddy the waters around their own bad behavior.I would like to urge all of you to come to councel meetings to watch them in action.One more suggestion--would you all give up being anonymous and take ownership of what you say ?
  11. GL
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    GL - January 19, 2013 8:20 am
    Did you ever notice that it is always right-wing conservatives that spew this stuff? Dems rarely do this.
  12. ZAR
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    ZAR - January 19, 2013 2:36 am
    one more time I will attempt to post,

    Why would you think that any God fearing Republican wouldn't think it was OK to call a black person Un -American. The GOP leadership from the absolute top has been saying this about Obama , without merit ,or anything approaching fact, with impunity from their base; which really disturbs me as a citizen of the United States. I think most folks forget that we are a united nation! People forget that the small community that they envision every day, as they go to and fro, is so small, and only a microcosm of society as a whole, and yet they feel that they are the only folks to have a voice.. We are a DEMOCRACY! A NATION UNITED..
    We in SD need the other states , just as they need us,… well in truth we need them more, we don’t produce much , we don’t manufacture much, Hmm, heck I guess we need them more than they need us!
  13. belisarious
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    belisarious - January 19, 2013 12:55 am
    Seems to me, the alderman may have simply questioned her citizenship status and her right to be questioning him. Nowadays, with the number of illegals in the United States, including Obama, I have no problem with the alderman making such a statement. The article did not report that the alderman called the reporter a racial slur. I do however question the alderman's apparent defensive response to the reporter's question. Not having the luxury of hearing the totality of the conversation, between the two people involved, I should think that everyone would not judge either the alderman or the reporter.
  14. ttpilot
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    ttpilot - January 18, 2013 11:57 pm
    Maybe he should go back to Europe. No, they wouldn't want him I expect
  15. hoss
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    hoss - January 18, 2013 11:07 pm
    As a citizen of this area I would like to express my empathy for Ms. Walker. I think she's a brave young woman, and the community should rally around her, demanding a more thorough investigation. And if there's any good old boy ston-walling and covering up going on the Mayor and the City Attorney should step up and do the right thing.
  16. hoss
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    hoss - January 18, 2013 11:04 pm
    I'm suprised Mr. Duffy is defending a racist position. He normally abhors racism.
  17. Fast Eddie
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    Fast Eddie - January 18, 2013 7:45 pm
    I don't know how the Mayor puts up with this council. What a bunch of morons. The whole council should be run out of town on a rail. Taisha Walker could probably own Rapid City after the remarks this clown made.
  18. Roland
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    Roland - January 18, 2013 7:01 pm
    And why did he need an attorney in the first place?
  19. Deklan
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    Deklan - January 18, 2013 4:54 pm
    After reading Taisha Walker’s account, Ward 1 Council Member Bill Clayton does not represent the citizens of Rapid City, and he should submit his resignation immediately.

    The question of why the council didn't take formal action against Clayton should be addressed also.

    grossg: Words well said.
  20. Roger Cornelius
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    Roger Cornelius - January 18, 2013 4:48 pm
    While recognizing that all people are entitled to an attorney, I am disappointed that Patrick Duffy is representing this racist.

    Why hasn't he resigned?
  21. grossg
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    grossg - January 18, 2013 4:11 pm
    It is very unfortunate that we have local citizens, let alone a city council member, who can make comments like this. It is no wonder that our city council has turned into a 3 ring circus!
    I truly regret that Ms. Walker was subjected to these comments. On behalf of the overwhelming majority of Rapid City citizens, I'm sorry.
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