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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Police Chief Claims Racism In Fight With Councilors (USA)

Dozens of people rallied Friday in support of a small town police chief who they claim is being targeted because he is black and on an opposing side of a small town political quarrel.

The town council of Brooklyn, a small community in Morgan County, intended to meet in executive session to discuss the future of Chief Chris Hester, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

Because of a technicality in the public notice posting about the meeting, councilors couldn't proceed. Hester and media members weren't allowed inside.

Outside, Hester was backed up by about 100 supporters as he claimed at least one council member made racially sensitive remarks about him and wants him ousted as chief.

"I believe (racism) by one or two of them, yes. I believe they're just still stuck in the 1800s, 1900s," he said. "I have proof. I have audio, and I have witnesses. This is just absolute harassment, in my opinion."

Four Indiana State Police troopers were on hand to ensure no trouble erupted between opponents.

"It's just discrimination against people I think is wrong," said Erika Underwood, one of Hester's supporters. "Chris is a very good person and policeman."

Council members left without speaking to the media, but 6News interviewed Frank Sams, one of the men Hester accused of making racial remarks, later at his home.

"I have no idea why they would ever think it's racist," Sams said, adding that he doesn't think there is audio of him uttering a racist remark. "I'm unhappy with the job he's doing."

Sams claimed that Hester hasn't cut speeding in town and that he's hard to find.

An executive session was rescheduled for Oct. 21. It will be followed by a public meeting where the council could take action against Hester, who filed complaints with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Indy Channel