A charge of discrimination against Gaylord Police Officer Eric Boon has been dismissed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
In October of 2008, Centro Campesino filed a Charge of Discrimination against Boon. Centro Campesino filed the charge on behalf of itself and approximately 20 aggrieved Latino immigrant residents of Gaylord and the surrounding area. The charge stated that since 2004, Latino immigrant residents reportedly had been discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against on the basis of their race and national origin.
The Department of Human Rights completed its investigation approximately two months ago. That investigation determined that there was No Probable Cause to believe that Boon engaged in an unfair discriminatory practice. The Department of Human Rights issued an order dismissing the charge.
Allegations that Boon was discriminating against Latino immigrants were presented to the Gaylord City Council approximately five years ago. In September of 2008, the City of Gaylord informed Centro Campesino that all complaints against Boon were investigated and there was no findings that required disciplinary action against the officer.
In 2009, Boon was the apparent target of demonstrations which occurred in downtown Gaylord. Centro Campesino also filed six Human Rights Violations against Boon, the City of Gaylord, and the Gaylord Police Department.
Those allegations against Boon and the officer’s response (in italics) to the allegations were as follows:
Complaint #1 stated that officer Boon issued tickets for not carrying a driver’s license and has arrested or threatened to arrest aggrieved members for not having their license with them while at home;
I have never went to a residence for the sole purpose of asking for a driver’s license, nor have I arrested someone for not having identification at home;
Complaint #2 stated that Boon threatened a family with his gun;
This entire incident was recorded on the squad car camera and was proven to be an outright lie. This complaint and #3 were filed in 2004 with the Department of Human Rights and both were dismissed;
Complaint #3 stated that Boon stopped a Latino female numerous times for no reason and showed her a notebook of all the Latinos he “pulled over.”
This female was a resident of Gaylord for three years and did not have a valid driver’s license, had illegal window tint which she had been told several times to remove, and had out-of-state plates.
Complaint #4 stated that Boon stopped a Latino at the grocery store and issued her a ticket and towed her vehicle because she was not carrying a driver’s license.
This female, a Gaylord resident for seven years, had been warned not to drive because she had no driver’s license. She was later recognized driving the same vehicle. I stopped her again and issued a ticket in which she used a false name, and had a fake Minnesota I.D.
Complaint #5 stated that Boon “pulled over” a female and demanded she admit she was not the same person as provided in the I.D. card. It stated that Boon refused to answer questions and he took her into custody for not paying a previous ticket and drove her to St. Cloud.
I was informed this female had a warrant from McLeod County. After confirming the warrant, I transferred her nine miles to the Sibley/McLeod county line. in which a McLeod deputy took her into custody.
Complaint #6 stated that 45% of all tickets issued by the Gaylord Police Department are to Latinos.
I supplied the Department of Human Rights all contacts made by the Gaylord P.D. from 2003 through 2009. During this time, I have stopped approximately 1600 vehicles. I have issued 250 citations to Latinos, 111 of which were for no driver’s license.
Centro Campesino is a group based in Owatonna, MN. Its mission is to improve the lives of members of the Latino and migrant community throughout southern Minnesota through community organizing, education, and advocacy.