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A Black police officer in Syracuse filed a lawsuit against the city’s police department, claiming “blatant and extreme racism” and an attitude of “Jim Crow culture” toward Black employees.
Brandon Hanks, 28, was reportedly denied entry into the department’s gang violence task force this year because officers in his department said he was a “gang member” and “narcotics trafficker” who has “known associations with gang members and convicted criminals,” the Washington Post reports.
The cop, who is known for playing basketball with young kids in the area, is reportedly seeking $33 million in damages in a complaint filed in the Northern District of New York, as well as increased employment and training opportunities for Black officers.
A memo from April 8, obtained by the publication and written by Capt. Timothy Gay, claimed that “Hanks’ association with known gang members, convicted criminals — felony and RICO — known to be involved in gangs, narcotics trafficking and other criminal activity are cause for concern when considering a transfer to the Special Investigations Division.” Gay pointed to a 2Pac lyric tattoo that Hanks shared with an old friend, who gravitated toward a gang when they grew up. Hanks called the statements about his character “an ultimate violation.”
“It’s a clear, clear, clear-cut example of racism and discrimination,” Hanks said. “This is what’s been going on, and this needs to stop.”
Police Chief Kenton Buckner, who is named in the suit, told the Post that the position was still open to Hanks and that his claims “painted an inaccurate picture” of the department. Twelve other officers mentioned did not reply to the publication’s request for comment.
“I don’t worry about the stuff in the memo, but the silent officers who haven’t said anything about it to me? Those are the people that I’m scared of,” Hanks said. “I don’t know if I can trust being around these people. Are they going to have my back?”