Racism as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” With that said, we’ll let you be the judge of this story.
It was reported on MLive.com on Monday (May 8), that a white Hastings police officer filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city of Hastings, police Chief Jeff Pratt, City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, and Sgt. Kris Miller for racism. The officer pressing the lawsuit, Sgt. Cleon Brown, discovered this past December that Ancestory.com traced 18 percent of his lineage back to Africa. Since then, the sergeant claims he has been “subjected to racial taunts.”
Sgt. Brown argues Chief Pratt called him “Kunta,” a fictitious character in Alex Haley’s novel, Roots, while other officers would whisper “Black Lives Matter,” and then fist bump each other in passing.
The lawsuit claims that the former mayor, Frank Campbell, told racially-charged jokes that included the slur, “negroid,” at least two or three times. The icing on the cake occurred during the holiday season when an officer placed a black Santa Claus in Brown’s station Christmas stocking with 18 percent written on its beard.
Although these claims are taunting, to say the least, the city is claiming that all of these issues transpire from Brown.
The city released a statement addressing Brown’s claims in which they stand on the side of the police chief, claiming he ordered the ribbing to cease, but Brown started the “joking and banter.”
In relation to the Christmas incident, Pratt confirms he was concerned that Brown was initiating the racial comments himself, and ordered it all to end. After the officer who placed the santa in Brown’s stocking apologized, the city claims “Sgt. Brown emphatically denied that he ever complained about it or that he was upset or offended by it and he even seemed confused that the issue was being raised.”
In support of their innocence, the city initiates that it’s uncertain that Brown is even a part of the protected class covered by the civil rights suit. They continue to extract proof from Ancestory’s website, which states that results don’t definitively reveal the origins of someone’s ancestors, rather “shared characteristics in genes, which might or might not indicate a person’s ancestors are actually from that geographic area.” The city continues to assert that racial discrimination laws are “not designed to protect those who can demonstrate some trace amount of a particular race or geographic origin…”
Continuing his petition for isolation due to racism, Brown’s attorney, Karie Boylan, claims the defendants in question unfriended him on Facebook and wouldn’t allow him to play in the annual charity basketball games.