By Stephen Janis
Special to the AFRO
Louis H. Hopson, a man who fought to reform the Baltimore police department by speaking out about racism within the ranks, has died. He was 70. No cause of death has been released.
Hopson was born in 1949 in Baltimore. He joined the Baltimore Police Department in 1981, where he worked nearly 40 years. He earned the rank of Sergeant in 1990.
During his career he advocated for equal treatment of officers of color and was unafraid to hold the agency accountable.
Baltimore Police Department Sgt. Louis Hopson, a pioneer of the law enforcement reform movement died recently at age 71. (Photo/Twitter)
“He was a man who lived his purpose,” State Senator Jill P. Carter told the AFRO. “He not only spoke out against racism, and corruption in the BPD, he sacrificed his career to fight for justice.”
“I can’t think of any other living soul who possessed Hopson’s combination of knowledge, wisdom, and love for us.”
Hopson was the lead the plaintiff in a landmark civil rights lawsuit against the city on behalf of at least a dozen black officers who claimed they faced discrimination in both promotion and discipline. The suit alleged black officers faced retaliation for reporting racial bias and were passed over for promotion as a result of speaking out.
After a long legal battle, the city finally settled for $4.5 million in 2009, nearly half of which went to rooting out discrimination in the BDP. The settlement also included the appointment of a monitor to ensure the department was complying with promises to eliminate racism in both hiring practices and internal discipline.
“I was proud to join Sergeant Hopson as he was the only person to bring a class action lawsuit against the BPD for racial discrimination,” Former BPD Colonel Melvin Russel said. “He was a constant champion for people of color.’
Hopson’s battle with the department took a deep personal toll on his both his career and his personal life. He was fired by the department in 1997 over trumped up charges, relatives said. But after a year-long court battle, a judge ordered Hopson to be reinstated.
He was also passed over for promotion to Lieutenant, despite earning a top ranking from the test administered to applicants.
However, friends say he remained a steadfast advocate for officers of color and a sage counsel on how to battle discrimination in law enforcement.
“Sergeant Hopson never hesitated to come to the aid of those who needed guidance,” Kelvin Sewell, Lead Investigator for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office recalled. ‘His intuition was one of his greatest strengths. His generosity and compassion to help those in need was unmatched. “
He is survived by three sons, Williams, Louis Shawnta, and Kenneth, two brothers Robert and William Hopson and three sisters, Ruth Taylor, Vicki Green, and Renita Aponteleon.