Reports suggest that historically the Black Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team has been racially profiled by law enforcement officials in Georgia.
A Liberty County Sheriff’s representative said the team would stop the bus on the way home from three games in Florida, get into the vehicle, and tell the team they will collect drugs in their luggage. The police also had a drug detection dog.
The police stopped the vehicle for violating traffic laws.
The incident was first reported by The Hornet Newspaper, a student publication at Delaware State University. The incident occurred on April 20 at I-95 in Liberty County, Georgia.
Team members reported feeling “traumatized” after a charter bus was stopped by police while traveling through Georgia, and the school president said he was “outraged” about the incident.
In a video filmed by a second-year student riding a bus, a police officer told team members, “If there is anything suspicious inside, please tell me now. What if we find it? We cannot help you.”
The policeman went on to say. “If there is something in your luggage, you will probably be able to find it. You know? I’m not looking for marijuana, but I’m sure your caregivers will be disappointed if they find it.”
The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office deputy began clearing the player’s bag from the car’s cargo hold.
On Tuesday, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman defended the station. He said no racial profiling took place. “Before boarding the motorcycle, the agents were not aware that the school was historically black, and because of the height of the vehicle and the color of the windows, they were not aware of the race or the occupants,” he said.
“As a veteran, former Georgia military member, and sheriff of this department, I do not conduct racial profiling, permit racial profiling, or promote racial profiling.” Mr Bowman is black.
However, DSU Chancellor Tony Allen wrote on Monday that DSU had informed Delaware Governor John Carney, the Office of the State Attorney General, the Delaware Congressional Delegation, and Congressional Black Caucus of the incident.
“They are just as angry as me,” Allen wrote. “We are also contacting Georgia law enforcement agencies to explore legal and other avenues available to student athletes, coaches and universities.”
“This video is upsetting, worrying and disappointing,” Governor Carney said in a statement on Monday.
He added: “These moments should be classified as part of our country’s complex history, but they continue to occur with sad rules in communities across our country. It is especially difficult when it comes to impacting our society.”
Meanwhile, Alan said: “None of us must forget how thin the lines are between the custom and the extraordinary, the ordinary and the exceptional, the safe and the harmed. That applies to all of us, but especially to communities of color and the organizations that serve them. The resulting feeling of deprivation is always the target of an aggressor.”