Earlier this year, as Officer Russell Ellis neared the end of his late shift at the University of Washington’s campus police department, one of his superiors offered him an energy drink. The sergeant was laughing, Ellis said, noting that the beverage was flavored like watermelon.
“I thought all you guys like watermelon and Popeyes chicken,” the senior officer said, according to Ellis, who is Black. A second Black officer described a nearly identical encounter with the same sergeant two years earlier.
Ellis, 49, said the exchange left him stewing privately with anger and humiliation. But he said it was far from the first time he had faced racial disparagement or discrimination during his years at the university, a sprawling lakeside campus in Seattle. The school touts diversity goals to the public, shares anti-racism resources with the student body and shapes the ideals of one of the nation’s most progressive — and one of the whitest — big cities.
All five Black rank-and-file officers in the university Police Department filed multimillion-dollar damage claims this week, describing a culture of entrenched racism that has included racial slurs, vicious comments about Black people and open hostility directed at them and at members of the public.
Dozens of incidents, ranging over the past several years through last month, are detailed in the filings. Officer Karinn Young said she sometimes found bananas placed in front of her locker, once with a note that referred to her as a “monkey” and said, “Here’s your lunch.” Officer Hamani Nowlen reported that a white supervisor hit him with a long, sticklike object and remarked, “You people should be used to being hit with these.” Officer Damien Taylor said he overheard white officers talking about the case of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last year, saying, “His Black ass got what he deserved.”
Read the complete article at: Seattle Times