Memphis Police Department Threatens To Demote Black Cops Over Discrimination Lawsuit
via Huffington Post
Dozens of African-American police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, are facing demotions to the positions they held over a decade ago in response to a ruling in a discrimination lawsuit the officers brought against the city.
African-American officers sued the Memphis Police Department in the early 2000s, alleging that the tests the city used to determine promotions discriminated against minorities. A lower court sided with the plaintiffs, and some of them were promoted afterwards. But last fall, a federal appeals court overturned the decision.
The officers may still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the meantime, the city is considering demoting 28 of the 62 plaintiffs back to the positions they held when the lawsuit was first brought.
“The city wants to give an ultimatum: If you all continue on [with the lawsuit], we’re going to demote you back to patrolman,” said Lt. Tyrone Currie, the treasurer of the Afro American Police Association Memphis branch, which supports the plaintiffs. He noted that most of the officers have over 20 years on the job and have earned equivalent benefits, while patrolmen tend to be officers in their early 20s.
“You should not retaliate against people just because they’re exercising their constitutional right to an appeal,” he added.
George Little, chief administrative officer for the City of Memphis, said that since some of the plaintiffs have made more money since their promotions in the wake of the initial ruling, it’s also now within the city’s right to get its money back. “We can say fine, not only are we going to bump you back to whatever your former position was, we want our money back that you weren’t entitled to,” he said.