Keith Wildhaber, the gay 22-year veteran of the St. Louis County police who settled a discrimination lawsuit with his employer for $10.25 million in February after being told that he needed to “tone down his gayness” if he wanted to be promoted to lieutenant, is now claiming he’s the victim of systemic racism and is stepping down from command of the department’s Diversity and Inclusion unit.
Wildhaber was appointed as commander of the unit shortly after the St. Louis jury found the department had discriminated against him because he was gay.
The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP), a group founded in St. Louis in 1972 by black Officers to address corruption and racial discrimination in the community and police department, had criticized Wildhaber’s appointment. “The group said in mid-July that it wanted proof that Wildhaber was capable of making ‘transformative change in racial diversity, inclusion and equity,’” the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.
Wrote Wildhaber in a Facebook post: “I battled St. Louis County for almost 4 1/2 years. The day I was sworn in as the head of the Diversity and Inclusion Unit, the Ethical Society of Police and community activists have been publicly attacking me and questioning my qualifications to do the job. To be clear, I met all of the qualifications, as spelled out in the department’s job requirements. I was enrolled to attend national certification by the National Diversity Council in April, however, the certification was unfortunately postponed until September due to COVID 19. The dog whispers of a gay, white guy being able to lead Diversity and Inclusion were loud and clear. Systemic racism is alive and well. I tried to ignore the background noise, but I’m not battling ESOP and the activists for another 3 years. This afternoon, I notified the department of my decision to transfer back to Patrol”