A report posted on the website of The Minneapolis Star Tribune early Sunday says all Ramsey County correction officers of color were instructed to go to another floor when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was brought to the county jail for booking on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the death of George Floyd.
The eight officers have filed discrimination charges with Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights. They told the newspaper that the action taken against them is the “most overtly discriminatory act” they have ever experienced while working for Ramsey County.
The Star Tribune said it obtained a copy of the discrimination complaint which said a supervisor told the officers that they would likely be a “liability” around Chauvin because of their race.
One officer said in the charges that the officers felt “deeply humiliated, distressed, and negatively impacted by the segregation order.”
One sergeant had already started a “routine pat down” of Chauvin but was replaced by white officers. Jail Superintendent Steve Lydon said he was trying to “protect and support” the minority officers and has denied that he is a racist. He reversed his decision 45 minutes later.
One officer told The Star Tribune that female officers are not ordered to avoid men booked on domestic violence charges, no matter how the female officers may feel about what the men have done.
The newspaper account says the corrections department initially denied that Chauvin had received special treatment, saying there was “no truth” to the report. One officer told the newspaper, “They were calling us all liars.”
Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd, an African American, died after his encounter with Chauvin. Floyd’s death, the latest in a long string of deaths of African Americans after their encounters with white police officers, touched off protests and riots against racism in Minneapolis and around the world.