HANGING MONKEY CASE SETTLES DURING TRIAL
After eight long years the case involving a monkey hung by a noose made from a rubber band around its neck in the Trenton Police Department has come to a dramatic conclusion. The noose and monkey were attached to the workstation of the only African American in the Crime Scene Unit. Attorneys’ Cliff Bidlingmaier, Esquire, and Robin Kay Lord, Esquire, settled the case for a million dollars after two weeks of trial, and before they were able to conclude the presentation of their case. Originally, the case was brought to light in an article published by the Trentonian on April 24, 2014, https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-trentonian-trenton-nj/20140425/282256663495178, which displayed the monkey hanging from the cubicle of the only African American Detective in the crime scene unit of the Trenton Police Department.
Unfortunately, the City of Trenton didn’t seem to recognize not only the horrific imagery, but also the dual display of racism of simianisation and lynching when this was first brought to light years ago. It was not until the attorneys Cliff Bidlingmaier and Robin Lord presented the testimony of three experts including a professor of African American Studies from the University of Florida that they had to have testify in the Mercer County Civil Courthouse did the City of Trenton decide to resolve the case.
The case involved Damon Jefferson who was employed by the City of Trenton, as a detective for the Crime Scene Unit and had been employed by City of Trenton in a law enforcement capacity for approximately fifteen (15) years. As stated previously, he was the only African American detective assigned to the Crime Scene Unit. On or about March 29, 2014, Jefferson arrived to work at the Trenton Police Department before the start of his 7:00a.m., shift, and discovered a monkey hung with a rubber band noose tied around its neck hanging from the wall of his workspace. It was obvious that the monkey was deliberately hung by a rubber band around its neck disregarding a purple hook that was attached to the monkey. A monkey and the symbolic lynching have historically constituted symbols of racism, hate, and oppression against African Americans in this country, as testified to by Dr. Patrick Mason a professor and expert in African American studies.
Jefferson had completed his last tour of duty on March 24, 2014, at approximately 1700 hours, and it was not there at that time. Between the completion of Jefferson’s tour of duty on March 24, 2014, and the discovery of the stuffed monkey hanging from the wall outside of his workspace on March 29, 2014, seven (7) detectives had direct access to
the Crime Scene Unit office.
After several weeks of attempting to perform his duties, the stress became overwhelming, and he was originally placed off duty by his general practitioner for hypertension, high blood pressure, and headaches. After being cleared for duty by physicians and his psychologist. The City of Trenton declared him unfit for duty and he was forced into early retirement, effectively terminating his employment on August 1, 2015, causing him to lose his full pension and medical benefits, as he wanted to return to his original unit.
The Defense advanced by the City of Trenton tried to portray the racist act as a joke between two non-African American detectives.
Suit was initiated by Mr. Jefferson alleging violations of the Law Against Discrimination, Conscientious Employee Protection Act (Whistleblower) and the Civil Rights Act.