The Seattle Police Department’s first Asian American assistant chief is suing for discrimination after being demoted following a much publicized racial justice protest, reports the Seattle Times.
Known as the pink umbrella incident, a tug of war ensued over an umbrella between a police officer and a George Floyd protester.
Capt. Steve Hirjak alleges he’s been unfairly scapegoated for what was the responsibility of another commander, Lt.John Brooks who ordered officers to spray tear gas and blast balls into the crowd.
According to KIRO-TV, the Office of Police Responsibility found Brooks responsible for the escalation.
“Chief Diaz announced that he was overruling OPA’s determination that Lt. Brooks was responsible for the violation of SPD policy. Even though OPA had concluded that Lt. Brooks alone ordered the use of force against demonstrators,” the lawsuit states.
The city told the Seattle Times it is fully investigating the complaint.
“The City takes its obligation to provide a workplace free of harassment and discrimination seriously,” said Dan Nolte of the City Attorney’s office in a statement.
One person who captured the incident on his cell phone backed the suit’s allegations.
“What I saw was an excessive use of force on a scale the city of Seattle had never seen,” says Omari Salisbury to KIRO.
The Seattle Police Department released the following statement.
“The Seattle Police Department and Chief Diaz are committed to bias-free policing and a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. Recognizing the rights of every employee to have claims of discrimination thoroughly and fairly reviewed without interference, the SPD and Chief Diaz defer any comment on this matter to the City Attorney’s Office.”
Hirjak’s mother is Korean and father Czechoslovakian, according to Northwest Asian Weekly.
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