Black Capitol Police officers say their claims of racism in the department went ignored
“We got [the] Jan. 6 [Capitol riot] because no one took us seriously,” one former officer said.
According to ProPublica, at least 12 Capitol Police officers are now being investigated for possibly assisting Trump supporters’ attack on the Capitol. Speaking with the outlet, however, several former Black Capitol Police officers say they’re not surprised. The department has a history of complaints of racism, including a 2001 discrimination lawsuit that had over 250 plaintiffs.
Since 2001, hundreds of Black officers have sued the department, claiming they were called the N-word by white officers and that one Black officer found a noose in his locker. Others said they faced frequent and “unprovoked traffic stops” from white officers and were subjected to racist threats and insults.
The claims led to hiring practice changes and a diversity office, but agency lawyers continued to deny any wrongdoing and the 2001 lawsuit is still pending.
“Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill,” Former Capitol Police Officer Sharon Blackmon-Malloy, who was the lead plaintiff in the case, told ProPublica.
For years, Blackmon-Malloy organized protests and tried to raise awareness about racism in the Capitol Police force.
“We got Jan. 6 because no one took us seriously,” she said.
Retired Lt. Frank Adams also told the outlet that he constantly endured or witnessed racism and sexism while supervising a patrol division of mostly white officers. Adams, who sued the department for racial discrimination in 2001 and again in 2012, said officers had a policy called the “meet and greet,” where they would stop any Black person on Capitol Hill. He blamed Congress for ignoring his and others’ complaints, which he says is what led to Trump supporters being able to storm the Capitol.
“They only become involved in oversight when it’s in the news cycle,” he said. “They ignored the racism happening in the department. They ignored the hate.”
Current Black officers also spoke with BuzzFeed News about not feeling protected by their supervisors during the Capitol riot and the racially charged violence they endured.
“If the same posture was taken Wednesday that was taken [this] summer with the BLM protests, it would have been totally different,” one unnamed officer noted. “I think [last Wednesday] was the result of a mixture of arrogance and incompetence, but I also think a group of Black people and brown people are a lot scarier to [management] than a group of white people. I don’t want to say that, but that’s just me being as objective as I can be.”
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