Black Officer Files Lawsuit Against Department For Discrimination, Alleges Retaliation After

By: Alyssa Wilson

A Black police officer with the Syracuse Police Department filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against his department in June, saying it discriminates and retaliates against Black officers and cultivates a “Jim Crow culture.”  

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According to Syracuse.com, Brandon Hanks is one of the best-known officers in Syracuse, New York. He has served as a bridge between the Black community and the police.  

He alleges the department discriminated against him by denying him a 30-day rotation on a gang task force. He would have been the only Black officer to serve in the unit. The 41-page lawsuit also claims seven officers, including one deputy chief, conspired to keep Black officers from being promoted in the department.  

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Hanks said a memo was sent out labeling him as a person with affiliations with gangs and crime, a narcotics trafficker and as someone who listens to rap music. This memo was used to reject his request for a role on the Gang Violence Task Force.  

Capt. Timothy Gay was accused of creating the memo. Gay claims Hanks has tattoos that match an alleged gang member, and that he has posted videos of himself listening to rap music in his police uniform. Gay was also sued in 2004 when an officer, a Hispanic woman, alleged he brought pornography into work and that he discriminated against her. 

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Days after the discrimination suit went public, he was reprimanded for a Facebook video from February that shows him in his police uniform in his private vehicle, according to an article by Syracuse.com. Police Chief Kenton Buckner said rap music isn’t the problem, but the “racial slurs” being used are.  

Hanks was also disciplined for posting song lyrics with profanities on Facebook. Buckner said the department’s social media policy is “pretty clear. Then for those who will say there are First Amendment rights, the law has been very very clear that there are some restrictions for law enforcement.”  

RELATED: Black School Resource Officer Fired For Using N-Word 

Hanks’ lawyers allege the recent reprimands are forms of retaliation and that a proper investigation is required.

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