The Cursed City of Spokane

Long time Spokanites have a handy explanation for when things go wrong in city government- a curse

In the summer of 1986, 18 police officers conducted an unwarranted search on the homes of two Romani-American families who the police suspected were in possession of some stolen property. The search yielded over 1.6 million dollars in cash and $160,000 in jewelry on the premises. The Marks Family, unofficial leaders of the Romani community at the time, did the only rational thing they could think of. Led by Grover Marks, the late patriarch of the clan, they cursed Spokane and then sued the city for forty million dollars for the unlawful raid of their homes, eventually settling at 1.43 million dollars at the end of the successful court case.

James “Senator” Marks, Grover Marks’ son, was at the center of all the talk about curses. Every city hall scandal, every civil problem had, Marks would cite the curse as the true cause of the issue. Nothing was sacred or safe from this curse, not the crash of the B-52 at Fairchild, not the death of former Public Administrator Novak’s son. Marks claimed the curse was the true cause of it all at various City Council meetings, where he often would remind the city that “the curse has worked well.” James Marks became a regular at City council meetings up until his eventual death in 2007.

James’ son Michael “Duke” Marks proclaimed at James’ funeral that “The curse, I think, is off Spokane, we appreciate everything that has been done, all of the kind words and sympathy.” A kind gesture towards Spokane, except that upon Grover Marks’ death in 1997 James Mark stopped the funeral procession in front of Spokane City Hall. His reason? To open the door of the hearse his father’s body was in and let his father’s ghost loose to “haunt the building for all eternity.”

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