Sunday, 14 May 2017

This Police Sergeant Alleged Racist Harassment After Finding Out He Was Part Black

After a 47-year-old police sergeant found out that he was part black from an Ancestry.com DNA test, he sued his police chief and the city of Hastings, Michigan, where he's employed, seeking at least $500,000 for alleged racial harassment.

For over 45-plus years of his life, Sergeant Cleon Brown believed he was part NativeAmerican, as his father had told him growing up. Then, as an adult, he decided to seek clarity on his heritage. After completing a DNA test, Brown learned that he was not Native American at all, but 18 percent sub-Saharan African. 
“I was so proud of it,” said Brown, recalling the moment his wife told him the results of the test.
The police sergeant claims he was then targeted by his colleagues and higher-ups for being part black, though the city denies the allegations, suggesting that Brown was the one who made racially incendiary jokes after he found out his true heritage. 
According to the federal civil rights lawsuit filed in April by Brown, the sergeant has accused Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt of mockingly calling him "Kunta," the name of a slave from the iconic made-for-TV series, Roots.
The suit also alleges that Brown's colleagues would walk by him and whisper "Black Lives Matter" while holding their fists in the air. Further, Brown claims that Frank Campbell, who was mayor when the sergeant found out his heritage, told the officer a joke which used the word "Negroid" on two occasions. 
And, as noted by The New York Times, a fellow sergeant allegedly stuffed Brown's "Christmas stocking at the station with a black Santa figurine that had '18%' written on its beard," back in December. 
The city has vehemently rejected the claims made by Brown. The New York Times reports: 
According to the city’s statement, Sergeant Brown said that he now understood why he “likes chicken so much,” and that “the 18 percent is all in my pants."
The city said that Sergeant Brown told the police chief that he was not upset by the black Santa figurine in his stocking, and that it was put there by a colleague he was friendly with. Sergeant Brown had a long history of making rude comments about black people, the city said.

Denying the city's response, Brown says the alleged racial harassment made him think, “This is why we have a great divide in this nation."
“I just never thought it would be in Hastings, saying, like, racist comments to me,” he added. “All the years I’ve been there we never joked about race.”
Brown says his "eyes are being opened now" to racial issues between black communities and police officers. 
His lawyer, Karie Boylan, took the allegations a step further, insinuating that Brown's coworkers are likely implementing racist biases while policing. 
“What are they doing when they’re on the road making decisions as law enforcement officers,” asked Boylan. “What factors are guiding their decisions?”
Brown is now "seeking at least $500,000 in his lawsuit against several city and police employees, but he says that most members of the department have been supportive," notes the Times. 

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