Hundreds of Black U.S. Capitol officers alleged racism in lawsuits years before riot
Since 2001, 250 Black officers in the law enforcement agency filed lawsuits alleging racist behavior and language from their colleagues
Black U.S. Capitol police officers have been vocal about racism in their department for years and recent events have put a spotlight on the institutional problem.
As theGrio reported, two U.S. Capitol police officers were suspended for their actions during the attempted insurrection. While Black officers were being taunted by rioters, some of their non-Black colleagues were engaging with trespassers and leading the way. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio confirmed the suspensions this week.
According to the report, one of the officers took a selfie with someone participating in the riots and the second officer put on a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat which the “interim chief determined that to be qualifying for immediate suspension.”
According to ProPublica, the behavior of their peers isn’t surprising to Black Capitol officers. At least 12 of their colleagues are under investigation for their actions during the rioting. And since 2001, 250 Black Capitol officers have sued the department for racial discrimination.
When Kim Dine assumed the role as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in 2012 he recognized an existing problem, the outlet reported. He shared with ProPublica that during his tenure, which ended in 2016, he made a conscious effort to encourage diversity, promoting a Black officer to assistant chief, a first for the agency, and changing hiring practices.
“There is a problem with racism in this country, in pretty much every establishment that exists,” said Dine. “You can always do more in retrospect.”
In the lawsuits, Black officers detail various levels of racist mistreatment from their counterparts. Some instances included claims that white officers called Black colleagues racial slurs, including the N-word, and that one officer even found a noose on his locker.
The report also details that, “white officers were called “huk lovers” or “FOGs” — short for “friends of gangsters” — if they were friendly with their Black colleagues and that Black officers faced “unprovoked traffic stops” from fellow Capitol Police. One Black officer claimed he heard a colleague say, “Obama monkey, go back to Africa.”
Sharon Blackmon-Malloy who retired from the Capitol police after 25 years, told ProPublica she wasn’t surprised by the riot in support of outgoing President Donald Trump. She was the lead plaintiff in the 2001 discrimination lawsuit filed against the department and is now vice president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association.
‘Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill,” she remarked. “We got Jan. 6 because no one took us seriously.”
Two current Black Capitol officers talked to Buzzfeed about the breach from their perspective.
“That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us,” one said. “They had radios – we found them. They had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flashbangs … They were prepared. They strategically put two IEDs, pipe bombs, in two different locations. These guys were military trained. A lot of them were former military,”
The second officer said that the protesters said they were “on their side” despite being violent with the police they encountered.
“We were telling them to back up and get away and stop, and they’re telling us they are on our side, and they’re doing this for us, and they’re saying this as I’m getting punched in my face by one of them … That happened to a lot of us. We were getting pepper-sprayed in the face by those protesters — I’m not going to even call them protesters — by those domestic terrorists,” he said.
One Black Capitol police officer’s actions resulted in a viral, heroic moment. Eugene Goodman is being praised for leading the trespassers away from Senate chambers in a brave act caught on camera. Lawmakers now want to honor Goodman with a Congressional Gold Medal. According to theGrio, a bipartisan group introduced the resolution on Thursday to recognize his heroism.
“Officer Eugene Goodman was the only thing standing between the mob and the United States Senate. I shudder to think what might have happened had it not been for Officer Goodman’s fast thinking and commitment to his duty and his country,” said U.S. Representative Charlie Crist.
“While some will remember last Wednesday for the very worst in our country, the patriotism and heroics of Officer Eugene Goodman renew my faith and remind us all what truly makes the United States great.”
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