A shocking case of racial profiling has emerged in Florida after it was revealed that a black convenience store employee had been arrested dozens of times for trespassing in and around the store where he works — during work hours.
The Miami Herald reports that Earl Sampson has been stopped, questioned, and searched by Miami Gardens police over 250 times in just the last four years.
In the same span of time, Sampson has been taken into custody 62 times for trespassing while at the 207 Quickstop on 207th Street.
Store owner Alex Saleh, who has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the local police department on Sampson's behalf, says Sampson isn't the only employee who has been unjustly hassled by police officers in the predominantly poor, black neighborhood.
In fact, Saleh's customers have also been stopped and frisked — some more than once in a given day.
And Saleh himself has also been the victim of harassment.
He told the Herald about the time last December when he was stopped by a total of six officers for a having a burnt tag light.
"I thought, you know, there is a lot of serious crime in Miami Gardens," he is quoted as saying. "Why do they need six police officers on a car stop with a burned-out tag light?"
He was subsequently cited for the tag light, as well as having tinted windows and bald tires.
"I'm going to get you motherfucker," then-sergeant Martin Santiago allegedly told Saleh before leaving the scene.
Saleh has grown so concerned of the police's "selective enforcement" that he's installed security cameras in his store.
Not to protect himself from bad customers, but to protect his customers from bad cops.
Saleh hopes footage of cops arresting lawful citizens, appearing to use excessive force against unresisting subjects, and conducting unwarranted searches inside Saleh's store will help him win his case.
Miami Gardens — population 109,000 is the third largest city in Miami-Dade.
"Where is the police chief in all this? In a police department in a city this size, this kind of behavior could not escape his attention," said ACLU Florida executive director Howard Simon. "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."
In the video below, Earl Sampson is arrested for "trespassing" after taking out the store's trash and going back inside:
Other videos captured by Saleh's surveillance system: