During her five years with the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, Tiara Brown said she gained first-hand experience of her culture of bullying.

In one of those cases, she said she reported what she believed to be an illegal stop and search to a superior.

Plainclothes officers from another unit approached a group of young black men in an area she was monitoring, lined them up against a door, and began to empty their pockets without any radio call prompting them. to do it. Brown deemed the incident illegal and reported it to a female lieutenant.

The lieutenant asked Brown to write an official statement and told him that the officers involved would find out who reported them. She then asked Brown if she still wanted to make a formal complaint, which Brown said she interpreted as a warning to remain silent.

So she did. Brown said ministry rules and policies require the lieutenant to step up, rather than quash, his complaint.

The account is one of many allegations made in a more than 250-page class action lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of Brown and nine other black women, former and current employees, against the Metropolitan Police Department. The women allege that they have been discriminated against on the basis of their race and gender, and that the division responsible for combating such behavior is headed by a man who has repeatedly expressed his hostility towards female officers and is agreed with management to discredit the women who come forward.

Three of the plaintiffs, Sinobia Brinkley, Regenna Grier and Tabatha Knight, say they were forced to leave. Five others, Leslie Clark, Tamika Hampton, Chanel Dickerson, Karen Carr and LaShaun Lockerman, are still in the force. Kia Mitchell, who joined the force in 1989, is retiring this week. Brown resigned in December 2020.

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment on Thursday.

“While we are unable to discuss specific allegations due to an ongoing litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably across our organization,” said Alaina Gertz, police spokesperson, in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously and will examine them carefully and respond to them accordingly.”

Throughout her tenure, Brown said, the way she insured police, especially speaking with residents at every opportunity, was frowned upon by many of her white colleagues. Her “positive approach to the police”, which included distributing care packages with socks, water, snacks and hygiene items to the homeless, made her an outcast among many of her. colleagues, especially white male officers who would tell her she was wasting her. time and was stupid to try to help people in the community, the lawsuit alleges.

But it got her recognition: she was named the department’s agent of the year in 2019, becoming the first African-American woman to receive the honor. Still, she decided to leave the department soon after.

Things came to a head one night last September as she protected the 7th District police station from protesters trying to enter the building after a police officer shot dead 18-year-old black Deon Kay. Protesters, many of whom Brown said were crying and visibly upset, eventually stopped trying to enter the building. As they chanted “Black Lives Matter,” some of the protesters pointed flashlights at officers’ faces, Brown said. She understood why they were upset. But she said the response from white officers at the scene, who she said were rolling their eyes, mocking and opposing the protesters, was not justified.

She said one of the protesters pointed out the insensitivity of her colleagues.

“Officer Brown, look at your officers, they are laughing,” she told the protester. “They don’t care. He looked like you. His skin matched your skin. And they laugh, Brown.”

She said she was deeply touched.

“All the things he said really affected me because it was true,” Brown said in an interview with NBC News on Friday. “And to see my colleagues acting so mean, so unprofessional, it really hurt me.

Brown, 33, now lives in Florida, where she works for another police department.

Top, left to right, Sinobia Brinkley, Tiara Brown, Karen Carr, Leslie Clark and Chanel Dickerson. Bottom, left to right, Regenna Grier, Tamika Hampton, Tabatha Knight, LaShaun Lockerman and Kia Mitchell.Temple Law courtesy

The women allege that they each complained on several occasions of unfair treatment on the basis of their race and gender to officials of the Equal Employment Opportunities Department of the Police Department and / or their managers, to no avail.

“They meet here in class to describe how the MPD has, for decades, treated black female police officers with contempt, to the point of systematic psychological abuse,” the lawsuit said. “As is often the case, the abuse is often not visible by looking at a person or an incident.”

Brown and the other officers allege in the lawsuit that when they reported allegations of discrimination to their superiors and the department’s equal employment opportunity office, they did so at their own risk. They said they faced retaliation and in some cases were forced to leave.

Brown said in the interview that she and white officers sometimes responded to white supremacist rallies and none of the white officers treated people at those rallies the same way they did. made do with protesters outside the 7th District Police Station last September.

“What was the difference between situations like this and situations where people of color are protesting? she said on Friday, adding that she quit because she no longer felt safe at work.

“No one wants to come to work with the impression that if something happens who is going to support me? And there have been many times that I have felt that way,” she said.

After George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis custody in May 2020, Brown said some of his white colleagues defended then-policeman Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 and a half minutes.

“There were officers who stood up for what he had done,” she said. “At work. Imagine being at work with officers defending what this man had done.”

Chauvin was convicted in April of state charges of unintentional second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in 2020. He was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.

Mitchell, who joined the department in 1985, said in the lawsuit that after complaining about a white officer who took out his penis and urinated in a bottle while riding a department vehicle, she had suffered retaliation for making “a big deal” out of this. The officer she pointed out was promoted to lieutenant soon after, according to the lawsuit.

“The MPD has maintained a model, practice and custom not only of excusing the misconduct of white officers with regard to their conduct within the MPD, but also with regard to their interactions with the community,” alleges the trial. He also says white male officers are the subject of more excessive force complaints than any other group.

Clark, who has worked at the ministry since 1989, said on or around July 11, 2012, a white officer told him he wanted to kill then-first lady Michelle Obama and showed him a photo of ‘a gun he said was. will use to do it, says the trial. Clark said she reported the threat to the Internal Affairs Department because she felt it was her sworn duty to do so.

She alleges in the lawsuit that her white colleagues subsequently treated her differently, that she was isolated and rejected by her peers, and that she was systematically given dangerous and undesirable assignments. She also alleges that a coworker used obscenity in telling her this month to mind her own business, according to the lawsuit. Clark said she complained to the Equality Employment Office, which she said did not take her complaints seriously, investigate or intervene in any way. either and allowed her to continue to be subjected to a hostile work environment. Clark retired in May 2014.

“I know a few of the women have done their best to make their voices heard,” Brown said. “The ministry has tried to discredit them. If you are not on their side, they will try to discredit you, they will try to break you down, they will try to get you to resign.”

The 10 officers seek compensatory damages and ask the court to appoint someone to overhaul the Metropolitan Police Department and make sure it undergoes structural changes.

“I was good enough to be the first African-American woman to win Officer of the Year out of 3,000 police officers, but by the time I took a stand to say everything I had seen, to bringing it to their attention, I was discredited, “Brown said.