MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis police lieutenant is suing the city, alleging his demotion from deputy chief after comments made to the Star Tribune about hiring practices amounted to racial discrimination.

Arthur Knight’s lawsuit was filed in May and made public Tuesday.

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In the suit, Knight alleges MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo demoted him Oct. 18, hours after he was quoted in a Star Tribune article about “the trouble police departments statewide are having in the recruitment and retention of non-white police officers.” This is the line in question from the article: “If you keep employing the same tactics, said MPD chief of staff Art Knight, ‘you’re just going to get the same old white boys.'”

The suit states Arradondo told Knight he was “getting a lot of calls and pressure” to take action against Knight, then the chief of staff and deputy chief.

“Indeed, some white officers acted to silence Mr. Knight,” the lawsuit states. “They lobbied the city’s Black Chief of Police to do away with the Black man who wouldn’t walk their line; and the Chief complied.”

Knight’s suit alleges his demotion violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race and other protected classes. Knight said his demotion has caused him “emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, pain and suffering, loss of reputation, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages and benefits, lost earning capacity, will sustain retirement benefit losses, and has incurred attorneys’ fees and expenses and other serious damages.”

Knight has been with the department since 1992, and the suit alleges he and other Black officers have experienced racial discrimination ever since his graduation to the force. The suit states his class was “the MPD’s most diverse ever (at the time),” and that other officers called he and his fellow cadets “the Black Class.”

Among other allegations, the suit states “a white officer with leadership yearnings was known to use the N-word openly and often—he is now a sergeant in charge of a department program.”

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The suit also alleges “another sergeant who serves the diverse northside of Minneapolis uses an alias on social media to post racist memes—without consequence—despite everyone knowing who it is.”

“And therein lies the deep irony and tragedy presented by this case—for decades, white MPD officers and leaders have continued to get away with open race
bias,” the lawsuit states. “Yet Art Knight loses his post as Deputy Chief for sharing one, non-racist and objectively true observation with a newspaper reporting on diversity in hiring, giving Mr. Knight’s foes internally at MPD a hook and cover to retaliate by advancing a false and disappointing narrative, that the department’s diversity and inclusion champion was somehow a racist himself.”

Knight is seeking damages and asking the court to craft “remedies to MPD’s discriminatory practices.”

After Knight’s demotion, community leaders, such as Michelle Gross with Communities United Against Police Brutality, spoke out in support of him.

“Art Knight spoke the truth when he said that if we continue our same employment practices we will end up with the same white boy police officers,” Gross said in October. “He is not wrong.”

The city of Minneapolis declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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“Out of respect for the legal process, and given that Lt. Knight remains an employee of the Minneapolis Police Department, we are going to let the lawsuit’s allegations speak for themselves, for now,” Ben Kwan, one of the attorneys representing Knight, said.