MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ramsey County officials are responding to a discrimination lawsuit that alleges correctional officers of color were restricted from Derek Chauvin.
On Saturday evening, it was announced that eight correctional officers of color filed charges of discrimination against Ramsey County with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
An attorney representing the officers say the officers work at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center. She says supervisors at the facility prohibited all correctional officers of color from entering or working on the floor where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was being held.
According to Ramsey County officials, the incident in question took place on Friday, May 29 when Superintendent Steve Lydon was notified by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that they would be arriving in 10 minutes with Derek Chauvin to book and hold.
Ramsey County officials said it’s important to note that Chauvin was set to arrive after three nights of “rioting and chaos” due to the murder of George Floyd.
“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,” Lydon said. “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.”
According to Lydon, correction staff immediately expressed concerns and the decision was reversed within 45 minutes.
“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,” Lydon said.
Ramsey County officials said the incident involved three officers, however attorney Bonnie Smith says eight officers were involved.
At a press conference Sunday morning, Smith said the deliberate discriminate actions the officers experienced left them “broken”. She said one officer was stopped by Lydon in the middle of booking Chauvin.
Sheriff Fletcher is now reviewing the matter to determine if any additional actions are necessary. Another meeting with correctional officers will be held at the conclusion of the investigation.