AFRICANGLOBE – Outside the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store in the suburban city of Miami Gardens, surveillance cameras have caught a lot of action. Only, the crimes that have been committed, on a regular basis, have been committed by cops, who appear to have made a sport out of harassing and humiliating the largely African American clientele of the Black-owned store.
Curiously, the Miami Herald reports, the officers have known they were being filmed. “They not only knew, the videos show, but in some cases, they relished it, taunting the store’s owner by waving open beer cans and cups, taken from customers, directly in front of the cameras as if the cans were trophies,” writes reporter Julie K. Brown.
Fed up, and loaded to the gills with videos for evidence, the store owner and a group of his customers and employees filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the local police of racial profiling, illegal search and seizure, harassment and intimidation of the store’s largely African American employees and customers.
The videos show officers roughly confronting an elderly woman, dumping the contents of her purse on the sidewalk and intentionally scattering the items, handcuffing an older man and forcing him to sit on the sidewalk despite his inability to do so because of a bad back, officers grabbing drinks just purchased and tossing them.
As Brown reports in the Herald:
The videos were released four days after The Miami Herald published a story, along with previous clips, that detailed how the city’s police officers have stopped and arrested people repeatedly for minor infractions. For years, according to store operator Alex Saleh, officers have illegally frisked and searched his customers and employees in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
Saleh, who has owned the store at 3185 NW 207th St. for 17 years, installed the cameras in June 2012, not to protect himself from criminals, but to catch cops he said had been abusing his customers’ civil rights for years.
Earl Sampson has been arrested 62 times for trespassing, sometimes while he is inside the store, even though he has worked at the store since October 2011. Three videos, previously obtained by the Herald, show officers coming into the store and removing Sampson as he is stocking the coolers or taking out trash. One short clip shows Saleh protesting as Sampson is led away in the middle of his shift.
According to the Herald, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, refused to comment on the pending lawsuit, but called the videos “disturbing.” All the more so, he said, because Miami Gardens, a city suburb of Miami, is predominantly Black and has predominantly Black leadership. This includes the city’s longtime police chief, Matthew Boyd, who is said to be leaving in January.
“I can’t be a mayor of a city that’s 80 percent Black and having officers harass Black people for doing nothing,’’ Gilbert told the Herald. “You can’t get arrested for just going to the store.’’
Miami Gardens does struggle with the problem of violent crime, but in this case, it is police arrogance and abuse that will be on trial.
Read more of the story, and watch the videos here: Watch
By: Janet Allon