Posted on May 11, 2017

White Cop Sues City, Chief for Racism: Says He’s Part Black

John Agar, MLive, May 3, 2017

Sgt. Cleon Brown

Sgt. Cleon Brown

A Hastings police sergeant says he has been subjected to racial taunts within the department after he took a genetic test through that showed he was 18 percent black.

Sgt. Cleon Brown said the police chief called him, “Kunte,” a character in Alex Haley’s novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” while officers whispered, “Black Lives Matter” and pumped fists as they walked past.

The mayor, who retired in January, told racial jokes, he said.

At Christmas, the department hung stockings with names of the officers on a Christmas tree. A black Santa Claus figurine – with “18%” written on its white beard – was put in Brown’s stocking.

Brown filed a federal lawsuit alleging state and federal civil-rights violations and violation of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. He claims intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He has sued the city of Hastings, police Chief Jeff Pratt, City Manager Jeff Mansfield, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter and Sgt. Kris Miller.

The city says Brown is to blame.

Mansfield released a statement by the city in response to Brown’s claim of discrimination.

The city contends that the police chief ordered racial comments to cease, and said Brown started “the joking and banter.”

“Sgt. Brown, in a very joking and jovial manner, informed several of his fellow officers that he had recently taken a DNA test through and the results showed that he was 18% African American.”

The city said’s website didn’t include “African American” as a possible test result.


The city said the topic would be forgotten before Brown would bring it up again. It would result in “mutual bantering” with officers about their heritage, the city said. Brown engaged in “typical racial stereotypes,” the city said.


During the Christmas season, the black Santa was put in Brown’s stocking. It was removed and an officer shared concerns with the chief. Brown told the chief he was not upset, and the chief, Pratt, told him to be proud of his African heritage, the city said.

Pratt then told officers there would be no further joking about Brown’s heritage. Pratt was concerned that Brown was initiating racial comments.

“The officer who placed the Santa in Brown’s stocking then went to Brown to apologize … since he heard that Brown was upset … . Sgt. Brown emphatically denied that he ever complained about it or that he was upset or offended by it and he even seemed confused that the issue was being raised,” the city said.

The city said that it’s uncertain that Brown is part of a protected class under civil-rights laws, even assuming that the test results are valid. Racial discrimination laws are “not designed to protect those who can demonstrate some trace amount of a particular race or geographic origin … ,” the city said.