A police officer alleges that he was ridiculed by his co-workers after his Ancestry.com genetic test showed he was part black.
After filing a civil rights lawsuit, he finally settled for $65,000.
Sgt. Cleon Brown’s lawsuit claimed that his boss, the Hastings Police Department chief, referred to him as “Kunte,” the African-American character from the novel “Roots.” He added that his colleagues used racial words, and even walked by him pumping their fists and chanting, “Black Lives Matter.”
The city hit back, alleging that Brown was the one who started joking about his heritage, prompting the chief to order officers to stop with the comments.
But according to Brown’s attorney, Karie Boylan, after the “Kunte” incident, things only got worse.
“As soon as my client told the others, the higher-ups in the city, that he was African-American, they thought it was a joke…They treated him as though he was less than them,” Boylan said. “There was an instance where my client was talking to the mayor, and the mayor — upon learning that my client was 18 percent African-American — proceeded to tell him a racist joke using [the N word].”
Her client went on to reportedly suffer further when a sergeant put a “black-face Santa” on a stocking, hanging it on the tree of the police department’s lobby during Christmas. The stocking also had Brown’s name along with the words “18 percent.”
After the settlement, Brown will remain on paid administrative leave until Oct. 31 and then, he will resign. He started working for the department in 1998.
Brown's action to stand up to racism is commendable because if bigotry is not confronted, racists will only continue to make disparaging remarks without suffering any consequences.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/www.ancestry.com