As it has become increasingly clear, not even Black cops are exempt from the racist thinking that pervades too many American police departments. Case in point: an African-American police officer in San Diego has filed a lawsuit against the department for harassment after he spoke out about a racist cartoon used in training manuals.
The offensive cartoon was from the now-defunct San Diego Sun in 1909, showing the department’s first Black police officer, Frank McCarter. With the title “Our Colored Policeman on the Job,” the cartoon shows McCarter depicted as an ape, with residents fleeing him as he patrols their street with a baton and gun.
Unbelievably, the department passed it around at a training session last year supposedly to celebrate McCarter’s milestone career with the department—giving the other officers a clear indication of how the department really feels about African-Americans.
But when Sgt. Arthur Scott complained about it, according to his lawsuit filed last week in the Superior Court of California, he was passed over for a promotion.
“He’s a good cop with a great career ahead of him,” Scott’s attorney, Daniel Gilleon, said to the Los Angeles Times.
In addition to being passed over, Scott was transferred to an unwanted position.
In addition to the ape, Scott’s suit said there was also a racist cartoon about President Obama pasted to police lockers in 2011.
This suit comes on top of many current and former police officers complaining that they have been accosted by police when they were off-duty and in plainclothes.
In response to his complaints, police leaders told Scott he was being “hypersensitive”—though they finally did remove the ape cartoon from training materials.
“Sgt. Scott sensed he would be paying a price for speaking out,” the lawsuit says. “Sgt. Scott’s fear was well-founded.”
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman released a statement saying her department would be taking the allegations “very seriously” and would cooperate with the investigation.