MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ) – A black deputy is suing the Macomb County Sheriff’s department for alleged discrimination on the job.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a race discrimination case that, you know, is really this overt and upsetting,” said attorney Debora Gordon.
Gordon represents Raymond Langley, one of only three black deputies in the department’s staff of 200.
Langley claims he was subjected to hateful pranks by his coworkers.
“He gets into his car one day and the screensaver on his computer is a color picture of a ‘Little Black Sambo’ [from a children’s book] on an island roasting a pig, saying ‘I love bacon,'” Gordon told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil. “An Aryan Nation book was found in his patrol car with a burning cross on the cover.”
Once, Langley claims. he overheard a dispatcher referring to him as “Buckwheat.”
Also, Gordon said, “There was a statue put in one of the substations that he was working out of that looked like a black-face lawn jockey, with various paraphernalia attached to it, such as a sign about Kwame Kilpatrick.
“… Ray has a thick skin, and like he says to me, ‘I’ve been black all my life,'” she added, “so none of this was something that he was looking for or that he was overly sensitive to.”
Gordon said those incidents, and others, were reported by Langley to the department — but never investigated.
The county’s attorney, Tom Paxton, says that’s not true.
“I don’t know anything about Black Sambo. There’s no evidence of anything on a Black Sambo; there is no evidence of a lawn jockey,” said Paxton. “But all of the incidents that he complained of, what he did complain of, they investigated immediately.”
Paxton also addressed Langley’s concerns about the relatively low number of African-Americans employed by the department and the fact that he hasn’t advanced in rank.
“He’s never applied for a promotion,” Paxton said. “There’s no evidence to suggest that he’s been denied a dime of pay or benefits, or opportunity that he’s asked for because of his race.”
The case, heard before a jury, is expected to last three weeks.