Clarkston Police Chief files grievance, says city manager has ‘animus’ toward white peopleClarkston City Hall and Police Department. Photo by Dean Hesse
Clarkston, GA — Clarkston’s white police chief has filed a grievance in response to her five-day suspension, saying that it resulted from the city manager’s “discriminatory animus towards white people.”
Decaturish obtained the grievance and the city manager’s response via an open records request.
In the complaint, Police Chief Christine Hudson accuses City Manager Shawanna Qawiy, who is Black, of telling a former city employee that “you can’t trust” white people. Qawiy suspended Hudson without pay for five days starting April 13, accusing her of insubordination and “conduct unbecoming a city employee,” among other allegations. In her response to Hudson’s grievance, which was filed on April 20, Qawiy upheld the suspension but reinstated Hudson’s pay. In her response, Qawiy denies being biased against white people.
“Finally, race played no role whatsoever in my decision to discipline you,” Qawiy wrote. “This decision was based exclusively on your own conduct, with no consideration of race. Your allegations that I have animus towards ‘white people’ is categorically false.”
Qawiy said she hoped that making Hudson’s suspension paid instead of unpaid would settle the issue. She did not, however, agree that the suspension was unwarranted.
“Although discipline was warranted based on your conduct, the specific discipline issued is being modified to remove the financial penalty as a modification under the City’s Grievance Procedures,” Qawiy said. “I hope that this adjustment will allow us to avoid the unnecessary expense and distraction from city business that would accompany an appeal hearing.”
In addition to a grievance, Hudson also filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hudson’s attorney, Ed Buckley, sent Qawiy a letter saying, “We ask that Chief Hudson be protected from any retaliation following the filing of her grievance and charge of discrimination.”
The records released by the city show that Qawiy and Hudson were having a disagreement about hiring an assistant police chief before she was suspended.
On April 11, Qawiy told Hudson that the position would be offered to “the next interviewed candidate that has the documented training, education and field experience required for the position.”
Hudson sent a reply on April 12, saying that, in her opinion, the candidate in question was not qualified for the job. The candidate Hudson wanted and who had scored highest for the position had made a counteroffer, but Qawiy was unwilling to negotiate, the April 12 email from Hudson says. Hudson recommended the job be reposted.
“Again, I feel the need to stress that the female candidate you wish to proceed with does not have patrol experience nor the leadership skills needed to qualify her as an Assistant Chief,” Hudson wrote.
She sent the April 12 email at 12:55 p.m. The next day, Qawiy suspended her.
One of Qawiy’s stated reasons for the suspension was Hudson’s alleged “failure to follow oral or written instructions.”
Qawiy asked for a list of recommendations related to an internal affairs investigation by 11 a.m. on April 12, the grievance says. Hudson read the email at the start of her shift on April 12 and asked for more time, but Qawiy declined to give her the additional time. Hudson wanted an opportunity to confer with an outside investigator involved in the case. Hudson had a meeting planned that morning as well.
But Hudson did meet the 11 a.m. deadline, her grievance says, submitting the recommendations by 10:58 a.m. on April 12. There was a follow-up meeting with the outside investigator at 1 p.m. that day.
During that meeting, the grievance alleges, Qawiy asked the outside investigator why he had not interviewed Hudson as part of the investigation. Qawiy then allegedly said she did not know what Hudson had discussed with another officer and did so “in a manner and tone that attacked Chief Hudson’s integrity,” the grievance says.
“At this point, Chief Hudson pushed her chair back, fidgeted with the pen in her hand, and said, ‘Here we go again,'” the grievance says. “City Manager Qawiy replied, ‘That’s disrespectful, Chief.’ Chief Hudson did not respond, and the meeting continued without issue.”
The grievance notes that Hudson is a decorated and respected law enforcement official with 40 years of experience.
“Despite Chief Hudson’s excellent service and commitment to serving City of Clarkston citizens, City Manager Qawiy has repeatedly tried to impede Chief Hudson’s ability to perform her job based on her discriminatory animus towards white people,” the grievance says. “The Employee Disciplinary Action and five-day unpaid suspension is City Manager Qawiy’s most recent attempt to discredit Chief Hudson and attack her character based on her race.”
The grievance says the facts do not support suspending Hudson.
“At worst, Officer Hudson met City Manager Qawiy’s deadline for one assignment, requested clarification about another, and pushed her chair back, fidgeted with the pen in her hand, and said, ‘Here we go again,'” The grievance says. “This behavior does not merit a public five-day suspension. City of Clarkson citizens, other city of Clarkston employees—including the police officers who report to Chief Hudson, and the local media have all taken notice of Chief Hudson’s five-day unpaid suspension for undisclosed reasons. The public nature of the disciplinary action will likely result in a loss of confidence in Chief Hudson’s ability to serve as Chief of Clarkston Police Department, both by its citizens and the department’s officers, which could create public safety issues.”
Attempts to reach Hudson’s attorney to ask if she would continue pursuing the grievance after receiving her back pay were unsuccessful.
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