A group of veteran Black women officers from the Baltimore Police Department addressed a news conference at City Hall on Friday (Nov. 5) in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. A Baltimore Sun article reported that each of the women are suing the Department after allegations of harassment, intimidation, and racial discrimination. Their collective damages are $40 million.
According to city attorneys, the claims should be dismissed. Nonetheless, the officers are pressing forward with their suits and speaking out against the mistreatment they experienced. During her tenure as head of the City Hall security unit, Sergeant Danika Yampierre claimed she was harassed and discriminated against. It is further alleged that she suffered abuse while on maternity leave.
Yampierre pointed out that her own colleagues compromised the investigation by providing confidential information about her complaint to the accused officers. I became the black sheep as soon as I spoke out,” she said. “So many Black women are suffering in silence in the police department and are too afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation”. She filed a motion for dismissal with the city in October, the Baltimore Sun reported.
She was called a “bitch” by her coworkers and given toy rats on her desk, Rowlett told reporters at the news conference. She claims she has been the victim of repeated sexual harassment by another officer who works with her in the Northeastern District, according to a complaint filed in May by Rowlett.
Rowlett mentions that her complaints have not been investigated by internal affairs. Because her previous suit against the city for unfairly labeling her as fraternizing with a male officer was settled for $77,000, the city has filed a motion to dismiss her latest suit, stating: “Plaintiff reiterates, reframes, and refashions her prior accusations and her subsequent actions in launching the current lawsuit.”
During an interview with Officer Welai Grant, she stated that she reported a major who called her a “niger” two years ago. In the aftermath of her complaint, she met with Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and reported it to the Inspector General’s Office. Afterward, Grant reported she was involuntarily transferred and saw others get promotions while she was not.
She reported that, at the time, former Sergeant Tashawna Gaines had left the Department and that she requested to be reinstated at her former rank of sergeant, but was turned down by then-Commissioner Kevin Davis. Even though Gaines left the police department in good standing and said she was understaffed, she was told she would not be able to return to her prior position.However, white men were reportedly given their jobs back by Gaines.
Gaines said he wasn’t one of the boys. Baltimore Police Department faces an ongoing problem of discrimination and retaliation.
The city’s attorneys have argued that Gaines’ claim should be rejected, as they have with the other three lawsuits brought by Black women. They believe Gaines left the agency willingly in order to work for local broadcaster WBAL as an investigative reporter.
Gaines, Rowlett, Grant, and Yampierre’s attorney Dionna Maria Lewis organized the press conference to inform the public about the culture of the department, which she calls oppressive. How long until the Bureau of Police begins self-monitoring against known, institutionalized sex, race, and gender discrimination and harassment, and severe retaliation?”, she replied. “When will accountability and oversight be in place?”
This article was penned by Jonathan P. Wright. Jonathan is a freelance writer for multiple mainstream publications and CVO of RADIOPUSHERS. You can read more of his work by clicking here.