Miami Gardens police arrest black man for trespassing 56 times -- at the store where he works

In the city of Miami Gardens, outside of Miami, FL, the police use aggressive campaigns of stop-and-frisk and absurd arrests to bolster their records, to the great detriment of the African-American majority who live there. For example, a young man named Earl Sampson has been stopped by Miami Gardens police 258 times; they've searched him more than 100 times; and they've arrested him for trespassing 56 times. He's never been convicted of anything apart from simple possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sampson's trespassing arrests occurred at his place of work, a convenience store called the 207 Quickstop; Sampson was repeatedly arrested for trespassing there, over the loud objections of his employer, Alex Saleh, who owns the store, and who explained to police that Sampson was not trespassing in his store.

When Saleh gathered video evidence that showed the police had falsified their arrest reports and violated the rights of his customers, he was targeted for police harassment, including falsified vehicle stops and personal threats. Saleh is suing for federal civil rights violations, alleging that Miami Gardens police "routinely, under the direction of the city’s top leaders, directed its officers to conduct racial profiling, illegal stops and searches and other activities to cover up illegal misconduct."

Saleh, whose store is tucked between a public park and working-class neighborhoods, contends that Miami Gardens police officers have repeatedly used racial slurs to refer to his customers and treat most of them like they are hardened criminals.

“Police line them up and tell them to put their hands against the wall. I started asking myself ‘Is this normal?’ I just kept thinking police can’t do this,’’ Saleh said.

Last year, Saleh, armed with a cache of videos, filed an internal affairs complaint about the arrests at his store. From that point, he said, police officers became even more aggressive.

One evening, shortly after he had complained a second time, a squadron of six uniformed Miami Gardens police officers marched into the store, he says. They lined up, shoulder to shoulder, their arms crossed in front of them, blocking two grocery aisles.

“Can I help you?” Saleh recalls asking. It was an entire police detail, known as the department’s Rapid Action Deployment (RAD) squad, whom he had come to know from their frequent arrest sweeps. One went to use the restroom, and five of them stood silently for a full 10 minutes. Then they all marched out.

In Miami Gardens, store video catches cops in the act [Julie K. Brown/Miami Herald]

(via Sean Bonner)