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Hastings police sergeant sues chief, city for racism

13 May 2017

"It was nearly a disgraced reaction I got from them like, 'Why are you proud of this type of thing, '" Brown said.

The lawsuit also claims that a stocking with a black Santa and "18 percent" was on the department's Christmas tree.

Brown filed a lawsuit on April 11, suing the city of Hastings, Pratt, City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, and Sgt. Kris Miller.

This police officer is now suing the city of Hastings and a number of police officers for "intentional infliction of emotional distress", Michigan Live reported. Brown's Santa was black with "18 percent" written on the beard, according to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids. The city said the officer who did it apologized to Brown after he heard Brown was offended by it, and 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".

The city also argues that Ancestry.com doesn't include "African-American" as a test result, only the country of origin.

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The Hastings government and City Manager Jeff Mansfield, who's named in the suit, said Brown is the one at fault.

The lawsuit claims Brown told now-retired Hastings Mayor Frank Campbell that he was African-American, to which the politician said, "Oh, you'll be all right".

The city told Michigan Live that Brown engaged in "mutual bantering" and acted out "typical racial stereotypes".

Each year, the department puts out stockings for the employees. In the fall, Brown said he "proudly" told his fellow officers about that fact, according to a federal lawsuit, though city officials disagree with that characterization and say Brown joked about the results from the beginning.

Pratt then informed officers that there would be no more joking about the results, the city claims.

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Pratt, who became silent or short with Brown, finally asked him to voluntarily demote himself from sergeant to patrol officer.

Cleon Brown launches $500K lawsuit against Hastings City and Police Department.

The city also questioned Brown's claim that he belonged to a "protected class" under civil rights laws, writing that they are 'not created to protect those who can demonstrate some trace amount of a particular race or geographic origin'.

Brown's attorney, Karie Boylan, said that when the defendants became aware of the complaint, which was filed January 4 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the chief and deputy chief "conducted highly coercive, offensive, intimidating employee interviews asking only leading questions". She also says they "unfriended" Brown on Facebook, and wouldn't let him play in a charity basketball game.

In a meeting with several other cops, the police chief allegedly called him Kunta, the subject of Haley's best-selling novel, which tells the story of an African man captured and sold into slavery in the US.

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Hastings police sergeant sues chief, city for racism