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Lawyer files civil rights complaint

PORTLAND — A lawyer in the Oregon Justice Department has filed a civil rights complaint in the wake of a racial-profiling scandal that started during an investigation of Black Lives Matters supporters.

A spokesman for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries confirmed receiving the complaint Friday from Erious Johnson Jr., The Oregonian reported. Johnson is the attorney in charge of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The spokesman, Charlie Burr, says the Oregon Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will handle the investigation.

In addition to the complaint, Johnson also filed a tort claim on April 2 that reserves his right to sue the state for damages and "lost earning potential."

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum released findings days ago from an outside attorney hired in November to review allegations that Johnson, who is African American, had been profiled by his own colleagues.

The complaint argues that the surveillance wouldn't have happened "had I not been a black male" and "had my Twitter activity involved matters other than the lives and experiences of black people."

"I have been subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment for engaging in protected social media activity," Johnson wrote in his four-page complaint.

He also noted: "All of the individuals involved in perpetrating said racial discrimination and hostile work environment are Caucasian."

The Twitter messages Johnson shared were largely a collection of political cartoons expressing outrage over police shootings and other racial justice issues, messages showing passion for black cultural issues, and photos showing Johnson's fondness for his wife and his German Shepherd.

His complaint also accuses Rosenblum of transferring one of the individuals responsible for the tracking, Darin Tweedt, the former director of the department's Criminal Justice Division, to an office down the hall from Johnson.

Johnson didn't return a message seeking comment. A message left for Tweedt also wasn't returned. A spokeswoman for Rosenblum declined to comment, directing questions to the labor bureau.