Earl Sampson has been searched by police more than 100 times, and arrested and jailed 62 times. What’s his offense? Trespassing. Miami Gardens police didn’t catch Sampson on private property; almost all of the arrest took place at the Quickstop convenience store where Sampson works.
Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.
So how can he be trespassing when he works there? It’s a question the store’s owner, Alex Saleh, 36, has been asking for more than a year as he watched Sampson, his other employees and his customers, day after day, being stopped and frisked by Miami Gardens police. Most of them, like Sampson, are poor and black.
And, like Sampson, many of them have been cited for minor infractions, sometimes as often as three times in the same day.
So troubled by what he continued to witness, Saleh installed video cameras in his store. Not because of crime that may occur, but to protect his customers and employees from police. He has collected more than two dozen videos since installing the cameras in June 2012, which raise some questions about police conduct in the area.
The footage shows police exercising what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are not resisting arrests, filing inaccurate police reports and searching Saleh’s business without warrants. Saleh and his attorney are preparing the file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Miami Gardens Police Department in protest of the racial profiling, illegal stops and other wrongful conduct.
Hopefully justice prevails.
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