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Former Evergreen police chief says she faced ‘open hostility on an almost daily basis’

Stacy Brown, center, the former Evergreen police chief, appears before the Washington Senate Law and Justice Committee in June 2017 with Evergreen president George Bridges and Colleen Rust, the college’s director of government relations.
Stacy Brown, center, the former Evergreen police chief, appears before the Washington Senate Law and Justice Committee in June 2017 with Evergreen president George Bridges and Colleen Rust, the college’s director of government relations. Olympian file photo

Another employee at the center of last year’s unrest at The Evergreen State College is in talks to settle a claim against the college, according to her lawyer.

Stacy Brown was Evergreen’s police chief for the 2016-17 school year, when allegations of racism and intolerance on campus erupted into protests and pulled Evergreen into a national debate over free speech on college campuses.

Brown, a target of student protests, left last August to become a Tumwater police officer. She filed a tort claim — a prerequisite to a lawsuit against a state agency — at the end of May alleging college administrators failed to protect her from gender-based discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Brown is seeking $625,000 in damages. Her attorney, Christopher J. Coker, said he has talked with state officials about a possible settlement.

“We’re going to hopefully get this resolved short of litigation. That’s our hope,” Coker said last week.

Sandra Kaiser, Evergreen’s vice president for college relations, declined to comment on a possible settlement or allegations in the tort claim.

According to the claim, Brown was subjected to “open hostility on an almost daily basis” from students, student employees, faculty and staff. Her tenure got off to a rocky start when protesters disrupted her swearing-in ceremony, blocking the podium and chanting “(expletive) cops!” according to the Cooper Point Journal, the student newspaper.

After that, a faculty member emailed her to say police “were basically fascists” and the disruption was to be expected, according to the claim. Another faculty member told Brown, who is white, that her wearing a uniform and carrying a firearm was meant to “prove she had more ‘privilege’” and intimidate the faculty member, who is not white, according to the claim.

After the problems associated with the Day of Absence last year at The Evergreen State College, the annual event was not held this year.

Later a drawing circulated on campus showed Brown in “suggestive clothing, a KKK type hood, and holding a geoduck that appears to be ejaculating,” according to the claim.

According to the claim, Brown told her supervisors about these and other issues but her concerns were ignored. Brown was told because she was a police officer “she should essentially expect to be treated differently and in a hostile manner by both TESC employees and students,” according to the claim.

Brown left a job as a deputy chief with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office to become chief at Evergreen. After she resigned, she took a job as a patrol officer with Tumwater Police Department and a pay cut of more than $15,000.

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Evergreen already has settled claims with other people involved in last year’s unrest.

In September, Bret Weinstein and his wife, both Evergreen professors, agreed to resign as part of a $500,000 settlement. Weinstein’s criticism of the school’s annual Day of Absence made him a target of protesters, and the couple filed a $3.85 million tort claim alleging the college failed to protect them from “verbal and written hostility” and threats of violence.

In December, another professor, Naima Lowe, resigned in exchange for $240,000 to settle her tort claim of discrimination and a hostile work environment, according to an Evergreen spokesman.

Lowe faced online attacks after video showed her confronting other faculty members during a protest.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869
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