Several minority corrections officers at the Ramsey County jail filed a discrimination charge Friday after they were allegedly banned from guarding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over concerns they faced “racialized trauma.”
Minority detention center staff were allegedly told that they would be a potential “liability” around Chauvin, the white former police officer charged with murder for the death of George Floyd, according to the racial discrimination charges filed with the state’s Department of Human Rights, the Star Tribune reported Sunday.
As a result, the 8 officers were ordered to a separate floor, distancing them from Chauvin, the charges claimed.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, a video of the incident shows. Chauvin was immediately fired after the incident and faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. He was booked at the Ramsey County Jail May 29 and transferred to the Oak Park Heights maximum security prison two days later.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Roy Magnuson told Reuters June 10 that there was “no truth to the report” of discrimination against minority staff.
“They were calling us all liars,” an acting sergeant, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, told the Star Tribune addressing Magnuson’s claims. “I can’t go to work and hold my head up knowing that they can just brush this under the rug.”
“When I asked, that’s what I was told,” Magnuson told the Star Tribune of his previous denial. Magnuson did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Another officer reportedly said the decision was solely based on skin color.
“I understood that the decision to segregate us had been made because we could not be trusted to carry out our work responsibilities professionally around the high-profile inmate — solely because of the color of our skin,” one black acting sergeant wrote in the complaint.
Jail Superintendent Steve Lydon allegedly acknowledged the decision during an internal investigation into the complaints, a copy of which was obtained by the Star Tribune. He made the move out of fear that Floyd’s death would “likely create acute racialized trauma,” according to a comment he made during the investigation, the Star Tribune reported.
“Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made a decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings,” Lydon reportedly said in the statement. He has since been demoted, the Star Tribune reported.
“I realized that I had erred in judgment and issued an apology to the affected employees,” Lydon said, according to the Star Tribune.
“My fellow officers of color and I were, and continue to be, deeply humiliated, distressed, and negatively impacted by the segregation order,” the charges said, describing a “hostile work environment” at the detention center since officials’ failure to address the incident.
Several officers said they saw footage from May 30 of a white lieutenant sitting on Chauvin’s bunk and allowing him to use her cell phone, the Star Tribune reported.
Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights declined to comment because state law permits it from commenting on a case that is not yet closed.
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