2r2Cleon Brown is a 47-year-old police sergeant serving Hastings, MI. Throughout those 47 years, he believed when his father said they were partly Native American – their lineage traced to the Blackfeet Nation. That, in turn, is what Sgt. Brown told everyone.

Brown and his father, now deceased, shared more than the story they told. They also shared the name Cleon. People who heard his name thought he was black. He held fast to the story his father had told him: his family is descended from the Blackfeet Nation.

Steps to taking DNA test

At birth, though, Sgt.

Brown’s (now) 18-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an illness more often found among African-Americans. The news piqued lingering curiosity about his actual heritage. Last year, everything he thought he knew about his background changed when he took a DNA test.

While the test revealed that he had absolutely no Native American blood, it also surprised him with the result that he was partly sub-Saharan. That 18% made him feel proud when he wife called and gave him the results.

Sharing DNA results with pride

With his new-found clarity intact, the sergeant proudly shared the DNA news with police department colleagues. After that, his life changed. His elation was trounced when others taunted him with racist remarks and jokes, Brown contends.

Jeff Pratt, the police chief of Hastings, allegedly called Sgt. Brown "Kunta," alluding to Alex Haley’s novel, “Roots,” about the life of an African man who was captured and, then, sold into slavery in the United States.

According to the lawsuit: other members of the police department pumped their fists and whispered Black Lives Matter when Brown walked past them; Frank Campbell, mayor at the time, told him a racist joke; and, December 2016, a black Santa figurine, with 18% on its beard, was stuffed into his stocking at the police station by another sergeant.

The sergeant's $500,000 lawsuit is against the city of Hastings, the police chief, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, Sgt. Kris Miller, and City Manager Jeff Mansfield.

City denies officer's claims

The city claims, however, that Sgt. Brown has a history of his own and that he has made rude remarks about black people. In addition, Sgt.

Brown reportedly learned the ancestry results and said that he then understood why he “likes chicken so much” and “the 18% is all in my pants.”

Additionally, the city is challenging whether Sgt. Brown is in a protected class according to Civil Rights laws. The assertion is that the civil rights law are not meant to protect people who have a trace amount of a race or geographic origin.

Karie Boylan, Brown’s attorney, asserts her client has been alienated by colleagues since disclosing his black ancestry to them. Boylan said law enforcement officers are supposed to understand cultural sensitivities.

Sergeant Brown, in law enforcement 20 years, said that in all his years in Hastings they never joked about race.