-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Earl Sampson works as a clerk at a Quickstop convenience store in Miami Gardens, Florida. He’s been arrested 62 times for trespassing, almost every time at that Quickstop where he’s employed. How can Sampson be trespassing while he working? Sampson is a 28 year-old African-American male.
Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years. He’s been searched more that 100 times and arrested and jailed 56 times. Yet Sampson has never been convicted of any crime more serious than possession of marijuana.
Alex Saleh, the store’s owner for 17 years, has been watching his customers, mostly poor and black, being harassed by Miami Gardens police for more than a year. Saleh decided to install 15 video cameras, not to protect the store from criminals, but to protect his customers from Miami Gardens police.
The videos show Miami Gardens police using excessive force on subjects who are not resisting arrest. They also show Miami Gardens police searching the store without warrants and without permission. The videos also show that Miami Gardens police have lied on arrest reports.
Saleh, along with his attorney, Steve Lopez, are preparing to file a federal civil rights lawsuit. Last December, Saleh was followed out of his store’s parking lot by a Miami Gardens police cruiser. He was pulled over for having a broken tag light. During the stop two other squad cars arrived for a total of six Miami Gardens police officers, for a burned out license plate bulb. The excess of police officers is a typical intimidation tactic. The video of that night showed Seleh’s truck leaving the parking lot with a working tag light.
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Florida, said:
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. 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.
Below is a video of Sampson taking out the garbage. When he reenters the store, he’s arrested for trespassing.