Eight nonwhite corrections officers in Minnesota are pursuing discrimination charges with Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights after they were barred from guarding Derek Chauvin in May. The officers claim to have been sent to a separate floor of the county jail after Chauvin’s arrest.
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The group’s supervisor reportedly told them their presence would present a “liability,” due to their race.
“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,” a Black sergeant wrote in the racial discrimination charges. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”
“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,” Steve Lydon, the supervisor, said of his decision.
Attorney Bonnie Smith, who represents the eight officers, spoke with the Star Tribune: “I think they deserve to have employment decisions made based on performance and behavior. Their main goal is to make sure this never happens again.”