Ten black female police officers are suing the Washington D.C. Metro Police Department for discrimination on the basis of their race and gender after raising numerous complaints against the department for its unequal treatment.
According to NBC News, the group of former and current police officers alleged that they were discriminated against on multiple occasions and that their complaints were disregarded.
The lawsuit states that the women “came together as a class here to describe how the MPD has, for decades, treated Black women police officers with contempt, to the point of systematic psychological abuse.”
The officers also claimed that the man responsible for addressing discrimination-related behavior in the department “expressed hostility” towards female officers and routinely worked with management to discredit those who complained of mistreatment.
In the lawsuit, officer Tiara Brown recounted how she felt she was intimidated by superiors after reporting her colleagues for carrying out what she regarded as an illegal stop and frisk on a group of Black men.
Brown resigned from the force in 2020, while other plaintiffs Sinobia Brinkley, Regenna Grier and Tabatha Knight said they were forced out.
Leslie Clark, Tamika Hampton, Chanel Dickerson, Karen Carr and LaShaun Lockerman, are still on the force, while Kia Mitchell retires this week.
When asked for comment on the case, the department gave a terse response.
“While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization. We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly,” Alaina Gertz, the department’s spokeswoman, said.
In the lawsuit, Brown said that she often felt outcasted from her white coworkers, and that they frowned upon “positive approach to policing,” which included handing out care packages to homeless people.
Brown also alleged that her white coworkers said she was “foolish for trying to help the community.”
Despite objections from her coworkers, her actions earned her recognition when she won the “officer of the year” award in 2019.
However, she decided to retire after witnessing her white colleagues’ treatment of protestors throughout the George Floyd protests.
Brown claims that she saw white officers “roll their eyes” and antagonize the protestors.
One protestor’s comments affected her deeply.
“Officer Brown, look at your officers, they’re laughing,” the protester told her. “They do not care. He looked just like you. His skin matched your skin. And they are laughing, Brown.”
“All the things that he said, it really affected me because it was true,” Brown recalled in an interview with NBC News. “And to see my coworkers act in such a petty way, such an unprofessional manner, it really hurt me.”
Brown added that she did not feel safe or supported working at the department so decided to leave.
“No one wants to come to work feeling like, if something happens, who is going to have my back? And there were many times I felt like that,” she said.
Plaintiff Leslie Clark, who retired in 2014, claimed that she was shunned and ostracized from her co-workers after reporting an incident involving a white officer who said he wanted to kill then-first lady Michelle Obama.
As in the case of her fellow plaintiffs, her complaints went unheeded by the department, and she felt she was instead retaliated against.
The 10 officers are seeking compensation and damages, and asking the court to include a restructuring of the Metropolitan Police Department.