A white police officer who was harassed by his colleagues after an ancestry test revealed he was part black has received a $65,000 settlement against the city of Hastings, Michigan.
Police Officer Cleon Brown endured racial taunts after telling his colleagues that he was 18 percent “sub-Saharan African.” Brown’s co-workers proceeded to call him “Kunta” and shouted “Black Lives Matter” when they passed the officer in the hallway. They also hung a Black Santa Clause figure from a Christmas tree with the numbers “18%” written on it.
Following the harassment, Brown filed a lawsuit against the City of Hastings for $500,000 in 2017. He accused officers and the mayor of violating his civil and federal rights in violation of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, according to WBCH. He also claimed that the racial taunting caused him emotional distress.
The city countered Brown’s accusations, stating that the officer “often made derogatory comments about African Americans, joked about his race and brought up the topic to other officers.”
Brown’s settlement ended up being $65,000 instead of $500,000.
“Suffice it to say that the process to resolve these matters is less than perfect, so the outcome of the process is less than ideal,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “But, the City Council agreed that entering into this mediated settlement agreement would allow the City to focus its efforts and resources on more productive endeavors in the days ahead.”
Brown has been with the Hastings police department for 20 years. Now, he will resign his position with the city on October 31 and will not be able to seek or apply for a position with the City of Hastings at any time in the future.
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