Ten Black women, who are former and current D.C. Police officers, including Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson (top) and Sergeant Tamika Hampton (bottom), are alleging sexual and racial discrimination in the Metropolitan Police Department. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green and J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

Black women are making history and potentially changing the course of law reform, as 10 former and current Black women D.C. police officers filed a $100 million class-action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for racial and sexual discrimination.

Let’s be clear, these women are risking a lot in speaking out.  Plaintiffs include MPD’s 2019 Officer of the Year Tiara Brown and Chanel Dickerson, assistant chief of the Youth and Family Engagement Bureau, a new bureau MPD announced in May 2021.  The 10 officers possess over 200 years of collective experience and positions within the MPD hierarchy come from every strata, starting at street-level patrol officers all the way up to the aforementioned assistant police chief. 

MPD is lambasted as “demeaning, degrading and disrespectful,” “profoundly dysfunctional and corrupt,” all contributing “a profoundly toxic work environment for Black woman officers,” in the filing. The plaintiffs allege decades of discrimination based on sex and race.

The lawsuit alleges an elite, select strata within MPD of White and male officers that control and abuse their Black and women officers, and punish or “crush” Black  women that speak up under “petty vengeances” that escalate up to ignored complaints, refusals of transfer requests, up to retaliations that include termination.

The 10 former and current MPD officers were done fearing for their positions and lives. 

According to the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers (NABLEO), the claim states that the women had been, “treated with contempt and subjected to a male-dominated ‘culture of race and sex discrimination’ and ‘intense pervasive retaliation’ when they complained about the treatment.”

“Even though they say retaliation is not tolerated, it really is.  It’s just covered up,” Sergeant Tamika Hampton told NBC 4.

However, enough was enough.

“We were labeled as troublemakers, angry Black women, and I’m here to say that we are not angry Black women,” Tabatha Knight, who retired from MPD earlier in the year, said last week in a press conference, according to {CNN}. “We are tired women and no one should have to endure what we did.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that her Office is taking “claims very seriously,” and investigating any issues her team believes “need to be investigated and take appropriate actions.”

The AFRO spoke to a representative from Attorney General Karl Racine’s Office, who had no comment at this time, as “this litigation is ongoing.”  

A representative from MPD also told the AFRO the Department could not speak directly on the ongoing case.

“While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization,” MPD said.  “We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly,”

Some of the policewomen’s fellow officers, such as the NABLEO, are supporting the women as they fight for justice.

“The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc. wishes to offer its support to the 10 current and former Black female members of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., who have recently filed a class action lawsuit against their agency claiming racial and sexual discrimination, hostile working environment and a culture of intimidation. Their plight is just another glaring example of how female officers are treated in their constant and continuous battle to gain respect and dignity in a White male-dominated atmosphere,” according to a statement released from NABLEO. 

Individuals are also taking a stance in support of the women.

“This case blows the doors open on the D.C. Police Department.  These 10 courageous outstanding Black women police officers are calling out the system’s racism, sexist and constant retaliation that has to stop,” Florida attorney Pam Keith wrote on Twitter.

“This case deserves our attention.  The toxic, neanderthal attitude goes all the way to the top,” another social media user wrote.

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