If you’re keeping count of what’s going wrong with America, then this news isn’t going to surprise you.
A class-action lawsuit against the city of Beverly Hills is accusing the city’s police department of racial profiling.
According to CBS, the lawsuit says the department’s “Operation Safe Street and Rodeo Drive Task Force,” run by Police Captain Scott Dowling, has arrested 106 people, with 105 of those being African American and one Latino, according to recent department stats. Most of the stops have been for roller skating, riding scooters or jaywalking and many resulted in no charges being made because there was a lack of cause or evidence, CBS notes.
On Monday, the proposed lawsuit, which names both the city and the police captain, was filed in the Los Angeles Superior court. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, known for representing the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin, is on the case.
If you don’t remember, The Root reported last October that Salehe Bembury, vice president of sneakers and men’s footwear for Versace, was stopped by Beverly Hills police for jaywalking across the street and subsequently searched for weapons. He had just come from shopping at the Versace store. Bembury is a part of the lawsuit, according to CBS.
Also a part of the suit are two Black protestors, Jasmine Williams and Khalil White, who were stopped and arrested during a protest last September, KFI reports.
Dowling was in charge of “Operation Safe Street,’’ also known as the “Rodeo Drive Task Force,’’ from March 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, and the only person arrested who was not Black was a Latino who appeared Black, according to the suit. Dowling referred to Blacks as “lazy’’ and laughed after viewing a video entitled “Yellow Fever With Soul’’ that was made by two Beverly Hills officers in 2015 and made fun of Blacks and Asians, the suit states.
Many of those detained during the program were simply riding roller skates or scooters and Dowling ordered those on his team to arrest and interrogate Blacks who traveled on Rodeo Drive, according to the suit.
“While African-Americans as a class were arrested for such actions, Caucasians ... who engaged in the same actions were not arrested,’’ the suit states. “Thus, the defendants engaged in racial profiling.’’
Williams and White, while visiting Beverly Hills on Sept. 7, were riding a scooter and “protesting the unlawful detention and citing the continuous racial targeting of individuals of color’’ when they allegedly were handcuffed and arrested on “multiple fabricated charges.’’
Prosecutors later declined to file charges against the plaintiffs, the suit states.
In a statement released Wednesday, Crump said that the police department has a long history of racially profiling residents.
“This Beverly Hills task force was created under the guise of safety, but don’t let anyone fool you,” said Crump in the statement. “In reality, these task forces were unjustifiably targeting people of color for things that white residents and visitors do all the time without incident. Dowling’s role in this task force should speak volumes— we’re talking about a man who was known to be racist and prejudiced against Black employees of the Beverly Hills Police Department.”