A Michigan police officer who accused his co-workers of racism after they found out he had African heritage has received a $65,000 settlement from a discrimination lawsuit.

Hastings Police Sgt. Cleon Brown found out he was 18 percent African after taking an ancestry test in 2016. The 19-year veteran says his work environment changed when shared the news with the rest of his force.

“It was almost a disgraced reaction I got from them like, 'Why are you proud of this type of thing,'” Brown told ClickOnDetroit. "I call it straight up racism.”

He filed an EEOC complaint, but the behavior did not stop there.

According to CNN, officers would whisper “Black Lives Matter” as he passed them, and the police chief called him “Kunta,” referring to the protagonist from Roots.

Around Christmas 2016, Brown discovered a brown Santa in his stocking with “18%” scribbled across its beard.

He filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the city of Hastings in 2017. The city has consistently challenged Brown’s account of incidents. They say the officer who left the head in Brown’s stocking apologized after he realized Brown was offended.

"During this most recent holiday season, a good friend of Brown found a tan color ceramic Santa head sitting in his own stocking with "18%" written on it. Not knowing where it came from and knowing his friendship with Brown, the officer placed it in Brown's stocking," the city said in a statement.

"The officer who placed the Santa in Brown's stocking then went to Brown to apologize for doing so, since he heard that Brown was upset about the incident."

The city also accused Brown of welcoming the jabs about his race.

"Other officers have stated that after Brown first told them about the test results they never approached him about it again. Instead, it was Brown who specifically went to other officers, raised the topic, joked about it and engaged in typical racial stereotypes. Clearly, Sgt. Brown welcomed his interaction with other officers on this topic,” the statement said.

The city says it settled with Brown for a fraction of his original figure to keep the peace.

“The city did not believe the lawsuit had merit. But when comparing the settlement to the cost and disruptive effect of defending the case. It was in the city's best interest to resolve the case on the terms in the mediated settlement agreement,” city manager Jeff Mansfield said in a statement.

According to WWMT, Brown will remain on suspension until October and will be required to resign when it ends.


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