La Crosse Police Officer claims racial harassment within department

Officer Anthony Clark describes racial slurs in discrimination complaint

A La Crosse police officer is claiming racial harassment and retaliation within the department.

Earlier this year, Officer AnthonyClark filed a discrimination complaint with the City of La Crosse.

In the complaint, Clark describes multiple instances where he believes he was the target of racial harassment by fellow officers and supervisors.

“It started with comments and it started relatively early,” said James Birnbaum, Clark’s attorney with O’Flaherty, Heim, Egan & Birnbaum LTD. “Very offensive references to black Americans and stereotypical references.”

According to Clark’s discrimination complaint, he claims he has been called “white on the inside” and a “house dog” by white co-workers. He also states that he has been “denied training for a variety of matters and various advancement opportunities.”

“After Officer Clark brought these matters to our attention, we then made direct contact with the chief of police in order to address these questions and we were referred to HR (Human Resources) in the City of La Crosse,” said Birnbaum.

Clark and Birnbaum met with the director of Human Resources and were told an investigation would take place.

According to the summary of investigation, “The investigation, which began in April, 2014…addressed almost all of the allegations set forth in Officer Clark’s Discrimination Complaint.”

But Birnbaum said not only did the racial harassment continue, but then it included retaliation.

“Within days of our interview with the city, Clark received a reprimand for a dirty squad car, which when he received it, the officer handing it to him acknowledged the fact that they were aware that he didn’t do it, but that he was the one ordered to clean it up,” said Birnbaum.

In the investigation summary it states, “The City of La Crosse has taken Officer Clark’s claims of racial harassment and retaliation very seriously.”

However, “Based on its internal investigation of Officer Clark’s allegations, the City of La Crosse denies all allegations contained in his Discrimination Complaint,” because many of Clark’s allegations did not rise to the level of racial harassment and the retaliation couldn’t be proven.

The summary also includes recommendations to the Police Department, encouraging additional diversity and harassment training, installing cameras in the Police Department and administering disciplinary measures.

News 8 contacted the La Crosse Police Department and Human Resources of La Crosse; however, they declined to comment at this point.

Birnbaum is not satisfied with the investigation and has taken it to the next level by filing complaints with three different agencies, two federal and one state. However, he’s hoping to meet with the city to find a solution.

Birnbaum said Clark will continue to work as an officer with the La Crosse Police Department throughout the proceedings.

If you would like more information about the case, a link to the discrimination complaint filed by Birnbaum and Clark and the Summary of Investigation done by human resources for the city of La Crosse are below.

Discrimination Complaint

Summary of Investigation