GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A Hastings police sergeant says he has been subjected to racial taunts within the department after he took a genetic test through Ancestry.com that showed he was 18 percent black.
Sgt. Cleon Brown said the police chief called him, “Kunte,” a character in Alex Haley’s novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” while officers whispered, “Black Lives Matter” and pumped fists as they walked past.
The mayor, who retired in January, told racial jokes, he said.
At Christmas, the department hung stockings with names of the officers on a Christmas tree. A black Santa Claus figurine – with “18%” written on its white beard – was put in Brown’s stocking.
Brown filed a federal lawsuit alleging state and federal civil-rights violations and violation of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. He claims intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He has sued the city of Hastings, police Chief Jeff Pratt, City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter and Sgt. Kris Miller.
The city says Brown is to blame.