Can you imagine being arrested dozens of times for simply trying to go to work? This is what one Miami area man, Earl Sampson, has endured over the past four years. Sampson, who works at a convenience store, has been either stopped or arrested around 300 times near his job for trespassing. As Sampson is black, many people are wondering whether he is the victim of racial profiling.
Sampson’s arrests over the last four years have totaled 62. The number of times Sampson has been stopped and questioned is 258. He has been searched more than 100 times. The convenience store Sampson works at, 207 Quick Stop, is in an area known for loitering, so police are quick to stop people and question them. Sampson isn’t loitering, of course–he’s just trying to go to work.
Lest you think Sampson is a bad egg and is deserving of the extra attention from police, Earl Sampson has just one conviction on his rather long rap sheet for marijuana possession. The rest of Sampson’s record comes from being hassled while trying to go to work. “They created this record,” Alex Saleh, Sampson’s boss and owner of the convenience store, said. “He’s a good guy, a humble guy, a quiet guy. He’s not a convicted felon.”
Saleh has tried to intervene on Sampson’s behalf by telling the police officers that Sampson works for him, which didn’t help matters. “They ask him, ‘What are you doing here?'” said Saleh. “He said, ‘I work here.’ The clerk said he works here. I said, ‘I’m the owner, let him go. I work here.’ The officer said, ‘Yeah right.'”
Sampson is also searched by the same officers quite often. “I never felt they had any probable cause,’’ Sampson said. “They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name.”
The police officers also come into Saleh’s store and search his place without a warrant. “One officer asked me, ‘Can I use the restroom?'” Saleh said of one incident caught on camera. “He opened the restroom door…he decided to go walk in coolers to commit a search.”
Eventually, Sampson and Saleh decided to catch the police officers in the act and installed more than a dozen security cameras. The resulting footage (see one of the surveillance videos above) proves that the Miami Gardens police aren’t justified in their repeated searches of Sampson and Saleh’s other customers. The footage shows the officers using excessive force, conducting searches of the 207 Quick Stop without search warrants and hassling Sampson and other customers for no legitimate reason.
Saleh plans to take the footage and file a lawsuit against the Miami Gardens Police Department for racial profiling. Do you think what the Miami Gardens police are doing to Earl Sampson constitutes racial profiling? Add your comments below.
@kwamezulushabaz I'm reading an article about Earl Sampson right now. Rage.
— monica.rochon (@iammrochon) November 25, 2013
[Image via WikiMedia Commons]
— Craig Horton (@craighorton) November 23, 2013