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Officers of color say they were barred from guarding cop accused of killing George Floyd because of race

Officers of color say they were barred from guarding cop accused of killing George Floyd because of race
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Eight nonwhite corrections officers for Ramsey County, Minn., alleged in a discrimination filing that they were barred from guarding Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in the killing of George Floyd, specifically because of their race.

The discrimination charges, filed with the state Department of Human Rights, allege that upon Chauvin’s arrival at the county jail, a supervisor ordered all officers to a separate floor and told them that their race made them a potential “liability” around the former Minneapolis police officer, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, citing a copy of the charges.

“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,” one acting sergeant, who is black, wrote in the filing. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”

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“I think they deserve to have employment decisions made based on performance and behavior,” Bonnie Smith, a Minneapolis attorney representing the officers, told the newspaper of her clients. “Their main goal is to make sure this never happens again.”

Steve Lydon, superintendent of the jail, later told his superiors he made the decision with minority employees in mind, according to a statement provided by the sheriff’s office.

“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,” Lydon reportedly said in a statement. He has since been demoted, according to the newspaper. According to the right officers’ charges, Lydon admitted to singling out officers of color and defended the decision as a precaution against “acute racialized trauma” but reversed the decision within 45 minutes.

“I realized that I had erred in judgment and issued an apology to the affected employees,” he said, but at least one officer’s work schedule had been changed for the weekend to reflect the move, according to the newspaper.

The Hill has reached out to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for comment.