The Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team has accused Georgia police officers of racial profiling for a traffic stop in which they allegedly searched for drugs and none were found, according to USA Today.
On April 20, the HBCU team was bussing to Delaware after playing their last game of the season at Stetson University in Florida the day before. The driver was pulled over by Georgia Police for “improperly traveling in the left lane.”
Video taken by DSU player Saniya Craft shows what occurred during the traffic stop and drug search.
Fellow DSU player Sydney Anderson also wrote about the incident in DSU’s student publication, The Hornet Newspaper.
The officers who conducted the traffic stop were white, while most of the players and coaches were Black.
From USA Today:
By that time, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office deputies had begun removing players’ bags from the vehicle’s cargo bay to search after asking Jones to open it. Police had a drug-sniffing dog at the scene.
Deputies knew those on board were on a lacrosse team.
“If there is something in there that’s questionable,” the deputy speaking on the bus said, “please tell me now, because if we find it, guess what? We’re not gonna be able to help you.”
In a statement from University President Tony Allen, he wrote that he has reached out to the Governor of Delaware, the state Attorney General’s office, Delaware’s congressional delegation and the Congressional Black Caucus about the traffic stop.
Allen wrote, “ They, like me, are incensed. We have also reached out to Georgia Law Enforcement and are exploring options for recourse—legal and otherwise—available to our student-athletes, our coaches, and the University.”
U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester released a joint statement saying, “No one should be made to feel unsafe or humiliated by law enforcement or any entity who has sworn to protect and serve them. That’s especially true for students who have sought out HBCUs like Delaware State University with a long history of empowering communities of color that have far too often faced discrimination and other barriers to opportunity.”
It continued, “We strongly support Dr. Allen’s decision to ‘go wherever the evidence leads’ him and his administration as they explore all possible options in response. Our offices stand ready to assist the Delaware State community however we can as it deals with the impact of this episode, and hope there will be a swift, just resolution.”
As you would imagine, coaches and players were stunned by the incident and had no words when their luggage was being removed from the bus before officers started explaining why their bus was stopped, according to USA Today.
More from USA Today on what occurred during the traffic stop:
During the stop, the officer told those on the bus that “marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia.” He then mentioned, “anything you can put marijuana in” to smoke it or devices used to weigh it “like a set of scales,” suggesting they are also unlawful without actually saying so.
The bus was stopped for 30 to 45 minutes, Jenkins said. At one point, a deputy stepped onto the bus holding a gift-wrapped box and summoned the person whose name was on it – senior Aniya Aiken, who happens to be from Decatur, Georgia.
“He said ‘You accepted something and you don’t know what it is?’ Jenkins said, and the deputy was told again it was a gift to be opened later.
The deputy returned to the cargo bay with the gift, which was then opened.
“Maybe another 10 minutes after that they come on the bus and they say ‘You’re free to leave, have a safe trip,” Jenkins said.
The gift-wrapped box contained a jewelry box, according to USA Today.
The driver of the bus was never issued a ticket.