Envision this: Dress up in a Ku Klux Klan robe for Halloween. Pound on your neighbors’ doors, yelling racial slurs, demanding candy. Carry a spray bottle of bleach to “make everyone white.”
What will that get you? A 42-year-old woman in Spokane, Wash., just found out: Four felony charges of malicious harassment and the possibility of a prison term if convicted.
Sharyl Ann Curtis was arraigned Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on the hate crime charges after being arrested by police on Oct. 31 and spending a night in jail. She is now free, awaiting trial later this year.
The hate crime spree began, police say, when Tyree Brown, who’s African-American, answered a knock at his apartment door that Halloween night as children were trick-or-treating in the Hillyard neighborhood of northeast Spokane.
When Brown opened his door, he was greeted by someone wearing a hooded, white sheet, with the letters “KKK” on the front, court documents say. A female voice was yelling “niggers,” demanding candy. The costumed visitor yelled the epithet “so many times” that Brown couldn’t count them all, the charging documents say.
As the hooded stranger walked away to nearby parking lot, she shed her KKK costume and Brown saw Sharyl Ann Curtis, whom he recognized “from fights and previous incidents in the neighborhood,” the documents say. Curtis had been arrested by police a few months earlier for threatening other neighbors, but those charges were dropped.
In the parking lot, police said Curtis waved a spray bottle containing liquid. “She yelled that it was bleach water and that she would make everyone white,” the court documents say.
Brown’s two children, identified in the court documents as “T.B.” and “K.B.,” were standing nearby, and Curtis sprayed the bottle toward them. The liquid hit a decorative Halloween ghost hanging on a wood railing, bleaching its black material, the documents say.
As Curtis walked away, several residents followed her into a nearby park. There, police said a woman following Curtis confronted her, and the two briefly fought. Two men who joined Curtis picked up her KKK sheet and the spray bottle and left.
The first police officer to arrive was Trevor Nollmeyer who said he spotted Curtis sitting on the ground in the park, “yelling unintelligibly.” She got up and ran a short distance, only to be apprehended by another officer, abruptly ending her Halloween outing.
The police officer said he followed Curtis to a local hospital, where she was treated for a broken nose, apparently sustained in the brief fight in the park. Her alleged attackers weren’t identified or arrested.
After reading Curtis her constitutional rights, the officer said he attempted to question Curtis, who responded by promptly raising her right arm in a Nazi-like salute and proclaiming: “I will raise my son white power because there are niggers out there.”
The court documents allege she then told the officer: “Don’t assault me because you’re a nigger lover. My son will shoot a cop one day, and I will give him the ammo.” She extended her middle finger on numerous occasions, they say, shouting at the officer, “Nigger lover, fuck you.”
Unfazed, the officer continued sitting at the foot of the emergency room bed where Curtis was holding a towel to soak up blood from her broken nose. “As I was typing a report on my laptop computer, the bloody rag came flying close to my head and landed on the counter behind me,” Nollmeyer said in the documents.
As she then attempted to kick the officer, his handcuffs came out and Curtis was promptly taken from the hospital bed to a jail cell.
Interviewed in jail the following day by a reporter with KHQ-TV, Curtis was still in denial, claiming she was the “real victim.”
“What did I do actually?’’ she asked in the interview. “What is proven that I did? Did I hurt anybody? There is no proof of that because I didn't. I was trick-or-treating with my son and they surrounded us.”
Curtis said there have been tensions between her son and African-American boys in her neighborhood. One black boy with a knife, she claimed, chased her 9-year-old son and twice cut his bicycle tire. “I tell the police and they say, ‘Well, get a hold of your [neighborhood] resources [police] officer.”
Curtis told the Spokane television station she had “little recollection” of her time in the hospital “but said it's possible she made hateful statements because she was medicated,” the station reported.