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Black officer sues Syracuse police over alleged “Jim Crow Culture”

Brandon Hanks says the Syracuse Police Department is promoting racial harassment.

Brandon Hanks Getty Images

A Black officer is taking legal action against the Syracuse Police Department over their treatment of Black employees. As multiple news outlets reported, Brandon Hanks filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city of Syracuse and its police department, who he claims is cultivating “Jim Crow culture.”

According to Hanks, he was denied a role in the gang violence task force because the department believes he’s a “gang member” who trafficks drugs and has “known associations with gang members and convicted criminals.” He claimed that the department was using his music taste to back their beliefs of his alleged gang affiliation, noting his past mention of a Tupac lyric was highlighted in an internal department memo written by Capt. Timothy Gay.

Hanks called the claim “an ultimate violation.” “I don’t worry about the stuff in the memo, but the silent officers who haven’t said anything about it to me? Those are the people that I’m scared of,” he said. “I don’t know if I can trust being around these people. Are they going to have my back?”

“It’s a clear, clear, clear-cut example of racism and discrimination. This is what’s been going on, and this needs to stop,” he continued, adding that this instance is one of many he’s experienced during his time at the department.

In the suit, Hanks claims the department generally cultivates an environment that promotes racial harassment, racial stereotypes and more, all of which he attempts to tackle with the legal action. He is reportedly seeking $33 million in damages as well as more employment and training opportunities for Black cops.

After getting wind of the suit, the police department denied the claims made against them. During a recent interview with the Washington Post, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said that Hanks’ depiction of the police department was “inaccurate.”

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