Eight minority corrections officers have filed a lawsuit against Ramsey County alleging they were barred from working where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was held. Chauvin is currently facing second-degree unintentional murder and second degree manslaughter chargers for kneeling on George Floyd‘s neck for more than eight minutes.
The corrections officers, who identify as Black, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and multiracial, allege the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center prohibited them from “interacting with or guarding Chauvin” or going on the floor where he was held. CNN reported the order was given by detention center superintendent Steve Lydon.
“Lydon refused to allow Plaintiffs to complete their professional responsibilities because of their race and the color of their skin,” the lawsuit states, according to CNN. “Plaintiffs’ reassignment and Lydon’s blatant discrimination broke the trust between employees and management.”
The suit adds that Lydon eventually met with the officers to express he wasn’t a racist, but defended his decision before relenting it. According to one of the officers, Chauvin also received special treatment from a white lieutenant while he was being held.
“When Officer Chauvin arrived, they were prepared to do the jobs they had done every single day up to that point, until, that is, Superintendent Lydon’s order prevented them from doing so,” the officers’ attorney, Lucas Kaster, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Last summer the minority officers filed a discrimination charges with the Minneapolis Department of Human Rights. Kaster told the Star Tribune the charges never gained traction, so the officers requested the case be closed so they could pursue a civil suit
Floyd’s death, along with the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed two months earlier, sparked nationwide and worldwide protests, as well as a significant resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Through social media, businesses and organizations were called out for their treatment of Black Americans and minorities.
In response, dozens of businesses and organizations pledged to close racial gaps in employment, access to credit, and racial equity.