Chinese American woman alleges she faced ‘abuse,’ ‘Cadet COVID’ nickname at New Mexico police academy

Nan Zhang

A Chinese American woman who was in training to become an Albuquerque police cadet in New Mexico alleges in a lawsuit that she was racially discriminated against and harassed out of the academy.

Star pupil: After Nan Zhang experienced two burglaries in her home in one week, she wanted to become an officer for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) to serve and “protect [her] community,” according to KOAT.

  • She passed the written and physical exams and was approved by two deputy chiefs and a lieutenant. All that was left to do was to finish the 26 weeks at the APD Law Enforcement Academy.
  • Zhang, however, claimed that after only six weeks, she was requested to leave, sign a resignation letter and “made to believe that [she was] unfit for this role.”
  • Zhang moved to the U.S. 15 years ago and is an American citizen, but she said that she faced prejudice and “abuse” daily and was nicknamed “Cadet COVID.”
  • “People kept telling me that you don’t belong here,” she said. “I mean, it’s just because of my age, my language and my race.”

Legal battle: City attorneys deny that Zhang was forced out of the police academy and that she was discriminated against. They allege she quit of her own volition.

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  • “I’m an American citizen, I’m American,” the former cadet said. “And my rights [are] equal like everybody else, but they treat me so different.”
  • Tom Grover, a retired APD officer now-attorney, will represent her in her lawsuit. The Department of Justice is also investigating the matter.
  • “What stood out to me when I looked at the records that Nan had when she provided her narrative of what occurred was how they were such a dwelling upon her while others were getting passes,” he said. “This was completely inappropriate and not consistent with the typical stress that a police academy is.”
  • Zhang stated that she is still interested in becoming an officer and joining the force, but has doubts that they will accept “people who look like me. Look different. Talk different.”

Featured Image via KOAT

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