Society

Ancestry.com Says Cop Is 18% Black, Lawsuit Results

| by Shani Shahmoon

After sharing with his colleagues that Ancestry.com confirmed he was 18 percent black, a Hastings police sergeant said he was victim to racial taunts and insults.

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.

Last fall, Sgt. Clean Brown took a genetic test through Ancestry.com and it came back stating that, among other things, Brown was 18 percent black.

Brown shared the news with fellow officers at the Hastings Police Department, who allegedly resorted to making fun of Brown.

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According to Brown, upon explaining his frustrations to Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt, Pratt called him, "Kunte," which is a black character in Alex Haley's novel, "Roots: The Saga of an American Family."

Meanwhile, his colleagues, also Hastings police officers, would reportedly whisper, "Black Lives Matter," and pump their fists in the air as they walked past him.

In addition to these incidences, Brown received a black Santa figurine in his stocking at the department over the holidays, and was told a racist joke by the city's mayor.

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.

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Karie Boylan, the attorney representing Brown, said: "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."

After Brown filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination suit, he reported that the work environment got even worse, WWJ-TV reported.

"He was told that he could not go to sergeant school, which he had been promised for 18 months, and he was asked by the chief of police to resign his position as sergeant," Boylan explained.

In addition to professional setbacks, Brown was also unfriended on social networks by fellow officers, and wasn’t allowed to play in the annual charity basketball games.

For these reasons, Boylan argues: "[Brown] will not have adequate back up in the event of an emergency."

The harassment, according to Brown's attorney, have effected his health and have made it difficult for him to continue working.

In response to the lawsuit, the city of Hastings said that Brown is at fault for the racial comments.

In a statement released by Mansfield, who was specifically cited in the lawsuit, the city insisted it reacted appropriately to any racial insensitivity.

The city claimed that Brown originally shared the results of his genetic test in a "very joking and jovial manner."

In addition to this, the city explained that according to Ancestry.com's website, their genetic testing does not necessarily define a person's ancestral ethnicity, but rather reveals similar characteristics in a gene that could indicate such facts.

Discrimination laws, the city claims, are "not designed to protect those who can demonstrate some trace amount of a particular race or geographic origin," according to Michigan Live

When he was hired by the Hastings Police Department in 1998, Brown was a police sergeant who had been given two life-saving awards. He had served seven years in the U.S. Army and upon release, was 30 percent combat disabled.

Sources: MLive, WWJ-TV (2) / Photo credit: Pixabay

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