Hasting, Michigan - A white cop in Hastings is suing his department for what he claims is racial harassment after he took an Ancestry.com DNA test which says he is 18% black.
Sergeant Cleon Brown, 47, says he grew up thinking that he was a white man with some Native American blood. His father, who had darker skin and black curly hair would tell people that his lineage came from the Blackfeet Nation, according to NY Times.
He became more suspicious when his daughter was diagnosed with an illness typically found in black people. Finally, last year, he decided to take an Ancestry.com DNA test. The results showed that he had no Native American DNA, but he did have 18% sub-Saharan African DNA.
Sergeant Brown said that he was so proud of his heritage that he told everybody at work. Shortly after, he claims that Chief Jeff Pratt called him "Kunta" and other members of the department whispered "Black Lives Matter" while pumping their fists as they walked.
In another incident, an officer who Sergeant Brown was friendly with put a Santa figurine in his stocking with darker painted skin and "18%" written on the beard. Afterwards, Sergeant Brown told the chief that he was not upset about it, but the chief told all officers to cease all joking about race after that; the city said that they were not aware of any further incidents.
These incidents led Sergeant Brown's lawyer to ask, “What are they doing when they’re on the road making decisions as law enforcement officers. What factors are guiding their decisions?”
Sergeant Brown himself seemed to answer that question when he said, "I just never thought it would be in Hastings, saying, like, racist comments to me,” said Sergeant Brown, “All the years I’ve been there we never joked about race.”
The department says that Sergeant Brown is the one who would constantly bring up his race and joke about it, saying that he now understands why he “likes chicken so much,” and that “the 18 percent is all in my pants.” The other officers apparently thought that they were engaging in friendly joking, and Brown never indicated that he was upset by any comments.
The sergeant said that this experience has opened his eyes to racism, “This is why we have a great divide in this nation,” he recalled thinking.
Sergeant Cleon Brown is suing the department for at least $500,000, and he remains on the job.