Eight Ramsey County correctional officers of color have filed discrimination charges alleging that they were barred from guarding former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin.
Shannon Law, LLC — the law firm representing the officers — filed eight individual complaints against Ramsey County with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Friday.
In the complaints, the officers allege that, as Chauvin was being transported to the jail, the superintendent ordered all officers of color that were working on the floor where Chauvin would be held to move to another floor. The officers say they were told officers of color weren’t being allowed on Chauvin’s floor and that white officers would handle the routine change out and escorting duties for Chauvin.
According to the Star Tribune,
As Chauvin arrived, all officers of color were ordered to a separate floor, and a supervisor told one of them that, because of their race, they would be a potential “liability” around Chauvin, according a copy of racial discrimination charges obtained by the Star Tribune.
“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,” wrote one acting sergeant, who is black. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”
In explaining his actions, jail Superintendent Steve Lydon later told superiors that he was informed Chauvin would be arriving in 10 minutes, and made a call “to protect and support” minority employees by shielding them from Chauvin.
“Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made a decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings,” Lydon reportedly said in a statement given during an internal investigation and provided by the Sheriff’s Office to the Star Tribune. He has since been demoted.