A racial discrimination and harassment case begun five years ago by African-American police in Richmond, California took a step closer to a conclusion after a jury found that no discrimination or harassment had occurred, denying the seven police officers’ claims.
Among the incidents the police officers noted in support of their claims of harassment and discrimination based on race were:
- Slurs about Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery, calling it, “[A]nother holiday for shooting people”
- Requests to dance in front of a group of white police officers, by the command ‘[D]ance, jigaboo, dance”
- Passes on promotions for at least one of the complaining officers and a demotion to what he considered a less-desirable position
The attorneys defending the racial discrimination and harassment claims argued that neither the conduct nor the comments of the chief or the deputy chief amounted to “outrageous conduct [that] exceeds all bounds of decency usually tolerated by a decent society,” the legal standard for workplace harassment.
Richmond stood behind its police chief, who claimed that the seven officers were simply trying to undermine his authority as the new head of the department. The police chief claimed that the officers took the actions out of context, that they were comments among colleagues who were used to joking with one another and that the complaining police officers resented the chief for coming in as an outsider who was also white and gay.
The seven police Richmond police officers are planning to pursue federal claims for employment discrimination and harassment based on race in November against the City of Richmond, its police chief Chris Magnus and former Deputy Chief Lori Ritter.
Source: ABC7, “Jury says Richmond’s police chief didn’t discriminate,” Alan Wang, April 10, 2012