A Black Pennsylvania State trooper filed a federal lawsuit on Monday (May 3), charging that he experienced and witnessed widespread and unchecked racism at the department’s Greensburg barracks.
Trooper Tavis Davis alleges in the suit that white supervisors did nothing to stop the culture of racism, which was on display toward its own employees and the public it serves, according to Trib Live.
Davis claims a garden gnome was hung with duct tape like a noose outside his locker, the report notes.
“This symbol was used to intimidate, harass and subject Mr. Davis to the most hostile of environments,” the lawsuit said, according to the news outlet.
Additionally, the complaint includes claims of discrimination, violations of the right to free speech, conspiracy and a hostile work environment.
The lawsuit reads: “Although Mr. Davis became a trooper, he never enjoyed the ‘blue code’ that the majority of his colleagues take for granted. Rather, officers and the (Pennsylvania) State Police as an entity, discriminated, harassed and retaliated against him.”
“Systemic,” “classic” and “historic” overt racism is described in the lawsuit that also accuses the department of “prolific profiling of Black citizens.”
Davis’ first encounter with racism came five days after he joined the academy, when a trooper said Black NFL players kneeling for the national anthem made the league they played in the “National Felons League.”
The complaint also recalls another instance, when one of Davis’ partners told him there are two types of African Americans: “Black people and ‘n-words.’”
“This conversation irreparably scarred Mr. Davis,” the complaint reads. “Any hope of continuing his employment within this department was dashed as he heard these words.”
Davis reportedly joined the state police academy in 2017 and was subsequently assigned to the Greensburg troop. He says that when he brought the racism to the attention of his superiors, they cut his overtime pay, issued petty disciplinary action, and refused him training and promotional opportunities. Additionally he moved across Pennsylvania to Harrisburg to “avoid the racial animus in his troop,” according to Trib Live.
A state police spokesperson said they could not comment on pending litigation.
State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick, along with numerous other supervisors and members of the state police chain of command were listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
“The PA State Police, by and through its policymakers, have no interest in solving the racial problems that persist in the department,” the lawsuit reads.
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