Former recruit sues Providence Police Dept., lawsuit centers around rap video

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE): A former police recruit sues the Providence Police Department after he was let go just weeks before graduation in 2019.

Michael Clark claims he was humiliated and discriminated against. The center of the lawsuit, filed by ACLU, involves a Christian rap video that Michael Clark wrote and sang about police brutality.

The lyrics include, “You choke on the floor, I can’t breathe, walking suspiciously, shot in the head, cops found not guilty. Will times change, I really don’t know man.”

Clark claims training officers targeted him because of the video.

“They made me put a durag on they asked me to incite rape lyrics,” Clark said. “They said rap, rap you’re not supposed to be here and brought up the video.”

The lawsuit states he was threatened and harassed including an incident during taser training, where Clark was singled out to be the only recruit to be continuously tased while having to crawl across the floor.

“They tried to make me quit, they told me you are not supposed to be here,” Clark said. “You don’t belong here. They singled me out every day I was there.”

Clark said the message he was trying to send was unity, which was the reason he wanted to become an officer to begin with.

“Bringing blacks and cops together, that’s what the song was for,” Clark said.

The lawsuit seeks compensation an order that officers under training to prevent discriminatory conduct.

Col. Hugh Celements Jr., Chief of the Providence Police Department, said in response:

“We’ll be well prepared to defend why an individual was dismissed. We have a very strong record on the growth of inclusiveness in the Providence Police Department. Our success in recruiting a diverse workforce is second to none, regionally if not nationally, for the last three Providence police academies.”

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