8 black correctional officers filed discrimination charges after being barred from guarding Derek Chauvin

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Derek Chauvin

8 correctional officers filed discrimination charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights against Ramsey County. The officers alleged that their supervisor barred them from guarding Derek Chauvin and kept them from being on the same floor.

The supervisor Steve Lydon said he did it to protect the workers who may have been traumatized by what Chauvin did to George Floyd. The correctional officers said they were never told that was the reason.

Recognizing that the murder of George Floyd was likely to create particularly acute racialized trauma, I felt I had an immediate duty to protect and support employees who may have been traumatized and may have heightened ongoing trauma by having to deal with Chauvin. Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made the decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings.  Shortly after making the decision, Corrections staff expressed concern with the change and within 45 minutes I realized my error and reversed the order.  I then met with the individuals that were working at the time and explained to them what my thought process was at the time and assured them that the decision was made out of concern for them and was in no way related to a concern regarding their professionalism or Chauvin’s safety.  I realized that I had erred in judgement and issued an apology to the affected employees.- Statement from Lydon

Bonnie Smith, the lawyer representing the 8 officers said that Lydon only allowed white correctional officers around Chauvin. Chauvin was in the middle of being booked and all African American correctional officers were ordered to stop what they were doing. They were not allowed to finish booking him or be on the same floor as him. Chauvin was being held on the 5th floor and all of the black CO’s were moved to the 3rd floor.

The employees affected by the order were hurt and upset that jail leadership did not trust them because of their skin color. These employees are highly trained professionals, whose job it is to keep each other safe, the inmates safe and the jail safe. – Smith said during a press conference.

As a part of the suit filed against Ramsey County, the CO’s are asking that Steve Lydon is removed from his duty, comprehensive in-person diversity training for the staff, a formal apology, and compensation for lost wages and emotional distress. 

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