Trespassing At Work???
Warning: This article reports a quote that contains profanity.
There is driving while Black, walking while Black, shopping while Black, and now, working while Black.
28 year old Earl Sampson wants to work. In fact, he wants to work so badly that he has retained his job although in the last four years, he has been put in jail 56 times, searched more than 100 times and questioned more than 250 times by the police. His crime? Being at work at the 207 Quickstop on 207th Street. The store is located in a predominately poor, Black neighborhood.
Alex Saleh, the 207 Quickstop’s owner, has filed a civil rights lawsuit in the federal court against the local police department. He said that Sampson isn’t the only employee who has been unjustly hassled by police officers. Saleh said that some of his customers are also stopped and frisked.
According to Saleh, about three years ago, police asked him to participate in a “zero-tolerance” program to reduce crime. He signed up, not realizing that he had essentially given the police the ability to stop and arrest people who appearing to be hanging around or trespassing. Shortly after putting a sign in his window for “Zero-Tolerance,” Saleh regretted his decision. The police came and started stopping his customers, writing them up for trespassing or other minor things like open containers of alcohol.
When Selah wanted to stop participating in the program and removed the sign, officers put the sign back and continued to monitor his store against his wishes.
Selah told the Miami Herald, “Police line them up and tell them to put their hands against the wall. I started asking myself ‘Is this normal?’ I just kept thinking police can’t do this.” Selah is of Palestinian descent and a native of Venezuela. He also stated that officers use racial slurs when addressing customers.
Last December, Saleh was also a victim of police harassment. He was stopped by six police officers for having a burned out tag light. “Why do they need six police officers on a car stop with a burned-out tag light?” Saleh stated that then sergeant Martin Santiago told him before leaving the scene, “I’m going to get you motherfucker.”
Saleh installed 15 security cameras in his store to protect his customers and employees from cops arresting lawful citizens, appearing to use excessive force against unresisting citizens, and conducting unwarranted searches inside Saleh’s store. He hopes that the video footage will help him win his case.
The Miami Herald reports that since installing cameras at his store in June 2012, Saleh has amassed footage of Miami Gardens police arresting people for trespassing despite them having permission to be at the store. Additionally, video footage shows the police conducting searches without a warrant and in at least one instance, reporting a trespassing arrest saying one of Saleh’s employees was loitering outside the business when video of the arrest showed him being taken into custody while he was working inside.
Chuck Drago, a former police officer and consultant on police policy and use of force, told the Miami Herald, “There is just no justifying this kind of behavior. Nobody can justify overstepping the constitution to fight crime.”
Howard Simon, Executive Director of the Florida ACLU, stated , “Doesn’t the City Commission know that they are exposing the city to either massive liability for civil rights violations? Either that, or they are going to wake up one day and find the U.S. Department of Justice has taken over its police department.”
Logically, after four years, the police know, or have reason to know, that Earl Sampson works at the 207 Quickstop. However, Sampson has stated , “They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name.’’
With official claims coming forth, Saleh is wary of the police and worried about his safety. He now has a licensed firearm.
The Young Turks hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian report:
Raw video footage taken at the store: