The mayor and police department of Miami Gardens, Fla., have been slapped with a federal civil rights lawsuit for police abuse and racial profiling, particularly against African Americans, Reuters reports.
According to the report, Ali Amin Saleh, the owner of a convenience store in the predominantly black suburb, is leading the lawsuit’s 11 plaintiffs. His Quick Stop has reportedly been subject to repeated, unjustified searches, often without his permission and without a police warrant.
"Over the course of approximately five years, spanning from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Saleh's Quick Stop was unlawfully searched without reasonable suspicion or arguable probable cause, numerous times by MGPD (Miami Gardens Police Department) officers," the complaint read, Reuters noted.
Moreover, multiple customers at the store have been stopped and frisked, sometimes even arrested, for "loitering or trespassing" while at the store, even though Saleh had allegedly protested, saying that the customers had full permission to be there. The repeated tactics resulted in Saleh’s business suffering because customers were unwilling to go there.
Earl Sampson, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and one of Saleh’s employees, knows firsthand about the alleged abuse of power, since the police department has arrested Sampson almost 300 times—about once every week for the last four years.
According to the complaint, Sampson had been arrested for trespassing several times while stocking the shelves or taking out the trash. "In all 288 instances, an investigatory stop was performed by MGPD officers who checked Mr. Sampson for outstanding warrants," the complaint read. "Well over 200 of these stop-and-frisks, searches, seizures, and/or arrests occurred without the reasonable articulable suspicion and/or probable cause required by law."
Plaintiffs are pursuing unnamed punitive and compensatory damages for the "deliberate, wanton, malicious, reckless and oppressive" behavior of the police, Retuers reported.
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Read more at the Huffington Post.