What Passes for Racial Profiling in Miami Gardens

The New York Times reports on yet another example of sweaty southern law enforcement going after the black man. The charge?  Working While Black.

“The mayor and police department of a predominantly black Miami suburb have been hit with a federal civil rights lawsuit over allegations of aggressive police tactics, including stop and frisk searches and arbitrary arrests, targeting African Americans.

The lawsuit against the city of Miami Gardens, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court, alleges a long history of police abuse and racial profiling in the crime-plagued suburb on the northern outskirts of Miami.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III, lead defendant in the lawsuit, did not immediately return phone calls or an email from Reuters seeking comment.

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is identified as Earl Sampson, 28, an African-American and employee of the Quick Stop who was repeatedly stopped once a week for four years, or about 288 times, the suit says.

On numerous occasions, it said Sampson had been arrested for trespassing while at work stocking the shelves or taking out the trash at the Quick Stop store.”

Now it’s hard to argue that there might actually be legitimate law enforcement purpose in arresting someone 288 times for trespassing at your own place of employment while working.  So something has clearly gone off the rails in Miami Gardens, but is this a case of racial profiling as the New York Times thinks?

Looking at the defendants named in the case, I wonder…

The Mayor, Oliver G. Gilbert III

The former Mayor, Shirley Gibbons

Chief of Police Matthew Boyd

Deputy Police Chief Paul Miller

You get the idea.

I’m curious as to why this employee and this convenience store is being targeted and I think it’s clear that there is some targeting going on.  But I think it’s more complicated than just racial.  If the primary defendants in the lawsuit are black, it seems like calling this racial profiling is missing the boat.  But I guess when all you have is a racial hammer, everything looks like stop and frisk.