CINCINNATI (CN) — Citing a racially charged social media post by a small-town Ohio mayor — “When are people going to figure out that we are in a Revolution in this Country. Blacks have all but formally declared war on whites” — a black employee brought a federal complaint against Hillsboro and its mayor, seeking punitive damages.
Craig Jackson, one of two black employees of the predominantly white town, sued Hillsboro and Mayor Drew Hastings on Thursday. Hillsboro, 57 miles east of Cincinnati, is 87.3 percent white and just 4.8 black, according to city-data.com. The median household income in the town of 6,600 is $32,541, less than two-thirds of state median of $51,075.
Hastings did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.
Jackson claims in the lawsuit that Hastings posted this message on social media in December 2015: “When are people going to figure out that we are in a Revolution in this Country. Blacks have all but formally declared war on whites, ideological types are fighting with Planned Parenthood, there’s violence over immigration, Muslim extremism, and our own Government as war with it’s citizens.
“This isn’t ‘lone wolf’ stuff. It isn’t a crazy with a gun. It isn’t ‘domestic terrorism,’ these are all skirmishes in a Revolution that’s here.
Pick your side and pick your battles, We are about 3 steps away from [sic]
All bets are off.”
Hastings, a two-term Republican, was indicted on abuse of power charges in July 2016 in Highland County Court. A judge dismissed two felony counts and a jury cleared him of two misdemeanors that November.
But Jackson claims in the lawsuit that Hastings’ comments caused some Hillsboro residents — and city officials — to act.
“In the ensuing weeks and months, Mr. Jackson faced horrific discrimination,” the complaint states. “He was called a nigger by passing drivers when he was out in the community. One passing driver threatened to hang him.”
It continues, “Randy Barr, then the City’s Assistant Safety Services Director, called Mr. Jackson a nigger and said, in Mr. Jackson’s presence, that he ‘went into the bathroom and shit out a turd that looks like Craig.’ On another occasion, when Mr. Jackson’s supervisor, who was set to retire, recommended Mr. Jackson to take over as supervisor in the street department, Mr. Barr said that Mr. Jackson was not the right color for the job.”
Barr is not a party to the lawsuit.
Jackson said he attended a Hillsboro City Council meeting to address the harassment. He was subsequently quoted in a local newspaper “as one of several members of Hillsboro’s black community who called on Mayor Hastings to resign as a result of the comments.”
Jackson filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February 2016. He says he declined Hillsboro’s offer of $2,500 to settle the claim, and the defendants retaliated by removing him from his position in public works and requiring him to undergo a medical evaluation, using his diabetic nerve pain as the reason.
He seeks punitive damages for racial discrimination, retaliation, disability discrimination and constitutional violations. He also seeks injunctive relief prohibiting defendants from requiring him to undergo a medical evaluation to return to work.
He is represented by Marc Mezibov with Mezibov Butler in Cincinnati.