Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Profiling or Obsession? Miami Gardens PD Under Fire for Treament of Store Clerk

Earl Sampson arrested for working
Some pretty absurd cases of profiling have been highlighted on this blog in recent weeks but Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown's expose about Earl Sampson's treatment by the Miami Garden Police Department really must be read to be believed.

As she observes in the article, to combat the high levels of violent crime in the predominantly black Miami Gardens area the mayor and the MGPD instituted a "zero tolerance" approach.

The 28 year-old Sampson (pictured left) has been arrested more than 62 times by the Miami Garden PD for trespassing. Only problem? The officers keep arresting him in the same place; the 207 Quickstop convenience store where the guy WORKS.

The harassment was so bad the store's owner Alex Saleh complained to the police then installed 16 cameras throughout the store to record multiple instances of MGPD officers confronting, cuffing and arresting Sampson while stocking coolers and other tasks during his shift.
The startling statistics of his case are enough to give pause; in four years the Miami Garden PD stopped and questioned him 258 times, searched him more than 100 times and jailed him 56 times.

Saleh and Sampson have now filed suit against the MGPD in Federal Court; Saleh himself has been the subject of harassment by the same police for filing complaints about unfair treatment of his employees and regular customers.

Check out some of the video of how MGPD officers treated Saleh's employee Sampson and some of the customers and judge for yourself. Since the story broke the chief of the Miami Gardens Police has resigned amid charges of widespread profiling by the department.

Earlier on today's edition of NPR's "Tell Me More" host Michel Martin interviewed Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown about the incident and she shared some pretty disturbing accounts of how the police routinely treated customers and local residents. It's worth a listen to get the latest in this evolving story affecting a community with a long history of police violence against poor minority residents.

The abuses Julie Brown uncovers are straight out of some Banana Republic, truly Third World kinds of personal rights violations. How do members of any police force return to the same store over and over again and arrest the same guy dozens of times for the same thing while he's working?

Is that really about preventing crime?

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