A Michigan police officer is suing his police chief and the city, claiming that he suffered racism from fellow officers after he found out he could trace 18 percent of his DNA to regions in Africa.
The thing is officer Cleon Brown is white.
Brown was surprised to find that he had African heritage when he decided to take a genetics test through Ancestry.com in December. But it was the reaction to the news by others that shocked him even more.
According to MLive.com, he claims that the police chief called him “Kunte,” after the character in Alex Haley’s novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” Other officers mocked him by whispering “Black lives matter” when they walked past him.
Brown has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police chief, deputy chief, a sergeant and the city manager.
He indicated two incidents, one where the mayor made a crack at his race, and another involving a “black santa” christmas ornament, that show the level of racist hostility he received.
“There was an instance where my client was talking to the mayor, and the mayor ― upon learning that my client was 18 percent African-American ― proceeded to tell him a racist joke” using a racial slur, Brown’s attorney, Karie Boylan told CBS Detroit.
“These are law enforcement officers,” she added. “These are people who are supposed to understand cultural sensitivities.”
The City of Hastings is pushing back against the claims, the Huffington Post reports. They say that Brown was also insensitive to his own ancestry and made inappropriate jokes.