Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves a Minnesota Jail that is housing Former police cop Derek Chauvin is now under fire for discrimination.
Eight Black correctional officers at a Minnesota county jail say they were segregated from the area where Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death, was being held, and only white officers were allowed to guard or communicate with him, according to discrimination charges with the state.
In the complaints, filed late Friday with the state Department of Human Rights, the eight officers, whose names are redacted because of fears of retaliation, say they were on regular duty May 29 at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center when Chauvin was taken into custody on murder charges. Chauvin is white and Floyd is black.
According to the complaints; a supervisor pulled all officers of color from their regular duties, and asked them to report to the third floor of the facility, away from the fifth floor, where Chauvin would be transported and held in a secluded cell. All were replaced by white officers.
An acting sergeant who is black and who had processed high profile inmates before while working for more than a decade at the jail, said in a written statement that he was in the middle of patting Chauvin down when he was interrupted and told to stop by Steve Lydon, the jail’s superintendent.
“The superintendent told me he did not want me participating,” the officer said, adding that white officers stepped in to replace him. He and other Black officers were also blocked from transporting Chauvin to his cell, the complaint said.
Word spread that all of the facility’s minority staff was being “segregated” on the third floor of the jail, prompting anger. One complainant described being “shocked” at seeing security camera footage of only minority officers on the third floor, rather than being positioned throughout the facility as they usually are. Another officer said he had been told that Lydon didn’t want any black officers around Chauvin, viewing them as a possible liability.
One of the complainants, an acting sergeant who is black and who had processed high profile inmates before while working for more than a decade at the jail, said in a written statement that he was in the middle of patting Chauvin down when he was interrupted and told to stop by Steve Lydon, the jail’s superintendent.
“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,” another longtime officer said. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”
Bonnie Smith, a Minneapolis attorney representing the eight officers, called that “a new defense,” saying that her clients had never heard Lydon, who has since been demoted, express concerns about their mental health.
She also disputed Lydon’s claims that he had moved to reverse the policy of segregating black officers, noting that her clients said they had been reassigned to new shifts during the roughly 48 hours Chauvin spent at the jail before ultimately being transferred to the Oak Park Heights state prison, where he is being held on second degree murder charges for his role in Floyd’s May 25 death.
Speaking to reporters outside the Ramsey County jail on Sunday, Smith said her eight clients, whose tenure ranges from two years to 11 years on the job, have chosen to remain anonymous because they have already experienced retaliation for their complaints of racism. She said they had been denied shifts and overtime and were still feeling “humiliation and emotional stress” from an incident that had exposed deep racial tensions among staff members.
Smith said the decision to file a discrimination complaint came after county officials last week denied a Reuters report that black officers had been segregated from Chauvin. She said officials also had not responded to calls for Lydon to be disciplined or fired, and there has been no formal apology from the county.