Sergeant David Holt, a state trooper in Pennsylvania, has been so steadfast and strong in his quest to get the state police to root out racism in its ranks that he has now won two discrimination lawsuits against his superiors—the most recent for a judgment of $1.9 million.
And through it all, Holt has not left his job with the state police.
At a time when the nation’s attention has been directed at the hostility many police officers seem to have for African-Americans, prompted by prompted by police-involved killings such as Eric Garner’s and Michael Brown’s, Holt’s case provides a window into the mindset of some state troopers in Pennsylvania.
Holt recounted his latest ordeal to NBC10 in Philadelphia, saying it all began when he tried to get transferred to the state police barracks in King of Prussia barracks.
“I was getting feedback from a lot of the troopers, some friends, some colleagues, that I was not welcome there,” Holt told NBC10.
In the notorious barracks there, the lieutenant in charge compared Holt to a previous Black sergeant who was demoted for being lazy and incompetent.
“My professional character was assassinated before I even entered into the troop,” Holt said.
“Why is he comparing him to another black sergeant?” asked Holt’s attorney, Alexis Zafferes. “There was no other reason besides the fact that these were the only two Black sergeants who have ever been under the lieutenant’s command.”
“Today in 2013, racism is a lot more cunning,” Holt told NBC10. “You’re not going to get the proverbial smoking gun where somebody is going to call you the ‘N’ word.”
Holt was awarded $1.9 million last week.
Holt had already won a judgment of $50,000 in damages in 2009 when he filed a lawsuit against one of his superiors.
He said he hoped others who were being discriminated against would be inspired by his example to take action and fight back.