Black Cop Who Went Viral For 'Pull Up' Videos Files $33 Million Lawsuit Against Department For Discrimination
Brandon Hanks claims that he was prevented from being promoted in the department by his superiors.
July 19, 2021 at 3:48 pm
A Black police officer in Syracuse, New York, is accusing his department of racism for allegedly preventing him from being promoted, The Daily Beast reports.Brandon Hanks, who became a viral sensation in 2019 for his “Pull Up Challenge” videos, in which he played basketball with neighborhood kids and gave out sneakers, claims that the Syracuse Police Department deployed racist tactics to deny him the promotion that he earned.
Last month, Hanks, accused the department of racial discrimination and said officers within the department were trying to ruin his career and keep him off of the Gang Violence Task Force.Hanks is the only Black officer working in Gun Violence Suppression Detail. According to a notice of claim, Hank’s supervisor, Lt. Donald Patti recommended he be transferred to the gang unit “due to his high level of performance.”
The lawsuit states that when Hanks' recommendation went public, seven white officers, including the head of the department Capt. Timothy Gay, took "extraordinary steps to deprive Mr. Hanks of his promotion.”
Including “a covert investigation into Mr. Hanks life and publishing a memorandum whereby they have fabricated a false persona of Mr. Hanks with the intent of destroying his career."Hanks’ alleged association with “known gang members” and “convicted criminals” were “cause for concern,” Gay wrote in the memo.
When news broke about the claims against the department, Mayor Ben Walsh responded to the allegations."Any example of racism will be rooted out and dealt with accordingly. Again, like any department, any institution there is room for improvement,” Walsh said per CNYCentral.com. “Chief Buckner and I work on it every day, and we're going to continue to do that."
Buckner echoed the same sentiments as Walsh in his response to the accusations."My goal is to make sure that everyone is heard, that we get to the facts. Then we move our police department to a place where officers and the community has trust in its police department," Buckner said.
Buckner, who is also Black, understands the difficulties of being a Black police officer and empathizes with Hanks' situation.
“Being Black and blue is a real thing,” he said. “It presents challenges for minority officers in a predominantly white profession. It presents challenges for minority officers that are having a significant portion of work done in Black and brown communities. There are times you certainly feel like you’re kind of catching it from both sides of the fence.”
Through this ordeal, Hanks has received a groundswell of support from the Black community in Syracuse. On Friday, dozens marched in support of Hanks in a demonstration organized by his mother Michele Vanfossen.
"It just shows everyone sees Brandon's heart the way I do," Vanfossen said according to CNYCentral.com. "Brandon has a humongous heart, he will give to anyone and anything, so for them not to appreciate it is kind of hard and hurtful."