Black U.S. Capitol Police officers protest alleged discrimination

A group representing black officers of the U.S. Capitol Police protested Tuesday against alleged discrimination and hostile treatment of its members at work.

Last week, the United States Capitol Black Police Association filed an amended complaint against the agency in federal court, alleging that senior-level officers had harassed and intimidated black employees.

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) - Members and supporters of the United States Capitol Black Police Association demonstrated in May and again this month.
(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Members and supporters of the United States Capitol Black Police Association demonstrated in May and again this month.

The lawsuit largely restates earlier allegations from a 2001 complaint that involved 300 plaintiffs. That case rose to a federal appeals court in 2009, after a lower court had dismissed it.

Seventy-two people joined in the latest lawsuit, which says black officers were passed up for promotions in favor of less-qualified white candidates, in addition to being publicly humiliated and subjected to racial slurs and epithets.

About 10 protesters showed up for Tuesday’s demonstration near the Capitol Building, according to organizers. Roughly the same number of people participated in a similar protest in May.

The relatively low turnout has not deterred Sharon Malloy, who is one of the plaintiffs in the amended complaint.

“Even if I have to stand out there myself, I’ll continue,” Malloy said. “We’re going to continue until justice is rendered.”

U.S. Capitol Police has denied discriminating against the plaintiffs involved in the original complaint. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said Tuesday that the agency has a policy that “clearly states that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated.”

Dine also said the department has made progress with workplace diversity in recent years. “We place the highest premium on individual capabilities and qualifications and ensure all employment actions are administered without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, disability, or military status, in accordance with all applicable Federal laws,” he said.

U.S. Capitol Police promoted its first two African-American female captains in 2012 and named its first black assistant chief this year.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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