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Black officer cites ‘Jim Crow culture’ in $33M lawsuit against Syracuse police

Black Syracuse officer Brandon Hanks filed a lawsuit against the city of Syracuse and the police department accusing them of painting him as gang-affiliated

Syracuse police officer Brandon Hanks has filed a lawsuit against the city of Syracuse and the police department for what he alleges to be “Jim Crow culture” and discriminating against him.

Office Hanks is well known in his city for his engagement with the community. In 2019, he hosted a one-on-one basketball match for the children in the area, with their prize being a pair of sneakers if they were able to score on him.

Hanks alleges that his familiarity with some of the citizens in the local area, along with him listening to rap music, that the Syracuse Police Department painted a picture that he is gang-affiliated, reports Syracuse.com.

On April 8, Capt. Timothy Gay, along with six other officers, generated a memo expressing their concerns on not only Hanks being tied to gangs, but possibly trafficking drugs. Hanks alleges that this memo was curated to prevent him from being part of an all-white gang task force because he is Black, labelling his treatment as “Jim Crow culture.”

Hanks is filing a $33 million lawsuit against the city, citing department discrimination and retaliation against its Black employees. The lawsuit claims that there was a secret investigation of him and that the police department conspired against Hanks, preventing him from being promoted to the specialty gang-fighting unit, even though he came recommended.

(Photo: YouTube/On Point for College)

Police Chief Richard Trudell was also added to the lawsuit for his use of the n-word, which Trudell admitted using in a deposition from a previous lawsuit filed against the department seven years ago by Sonia Dotson. Dotson alleged that she was retaliated against by the police department.

Hanks’ lawyers, Jesse Ryder and Charles Bonner, said while on the steps of City Hall on Monday that Trudell’s disposition of admission is racism, and that the chief should be fired.

“Brandon is in his car and there’s a rap song on in the barbershop where the word n—-s is heard and they discipline him. So they promote the white guy who’s an admitted racist and they deny a promotion to Brandon Hanks, who is out there really doing God’s work,” Bonner said.

The Mayor of Syracuse, Ben Walsh, feels that there is always room for improvement.

“And without being able to speak to the specifics of this case, I can tell you we are going to be looking at the facts and be continuing that work,” Walsh said in a statement in June.

“I do know Officer Hanks, and I’ve seen his work in the community. He’s been a great representative of the Department with our young people, and I was honored to award him my Mayor’s Achievement Award late last year.”

He added, “The allegations are concerning and hard to read. Chief Buckner and I share a firm commitment to ensuring the SPD is a fair and equitable department with its officers and with the community. That is what we are striving for every day.”

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