New York City is apparently not the only city in the country with a massive and racist stop and frisk program. Miami Gardens, Florida has a program that has stopped more than half that city’s residents — most of them young black men, of course — and frisked them without arresting them.
In the summer of 2010, a young black man was stopped and questioned by police on the streets of Miami Gardens, Florida. According to the report filled out by the officer, he was “wearing gray sweatpants, a red hoodie and black gloves” giving the police “just cause” to question him. In the report, he was labeled a “suspicious person.”
He was an 11-year-old boy on his way to football practice.
A Fusion investigation has found that he was just one of 56,922 people who were stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens Police Department (MGPD) between 2008 and 2013. That’s the equivalent of more than half of the city’s population.
Not one of them was arrested.
It was all part of the city’s sweeping “stop and frisk” style policy that may be unparalleled in the nation.
According to a review of 99,980 “field contact” reports, they were stopped, written up and often identified as “suspicious” — but just like the 11-year-old boy — the encounter was recorded in a public database, and they were let go.
Thousands more were arrested after being stopped by the police, raising the total number of people ensnared by the policy to 65,328 during the five-year period.
“I have never seen a police department that has taken the approach that every citizen in that city is a suspect. I’ve described it as New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids.” said Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos Martinez…Earl Sampson has worked for nearly three years at the 207th Street Quickstop, a convenience store that has become the epicenter for police stops.
Earl, 28, says he’s been stopped more than 200 times by the Miami Gardens Police Department. According to records obtained by Fusion, MGPD stopped him and filed a field contact report 181 times. In addition, Earl was arrested 111 times. Seventy-one of those arrests were for trespassing at his place of work.
“They walked through the door, grabbed me and just take me out,” says Sampson. “I told them I work here and they said I don’t care.”
Since the Miami Herald first reported Earl Sampson’s story last year, Quickstop owner Alex Saleh has launched a civil rights lawsuit against the police department and the City of Miami Gardens.
Alex says it all started with the police department’s “zero tolerance” policy, meant to bring down the crime rate by stopping suspected trespassers and loiterers at area businesses. But Alex says police took it too far and now calls police “bullies with badges.”
“I see how officers walk in and take everybody,” Alex told Fusion. “I see there was abuse.”
Alex says he was so appalled that he installed video surveillance cameras in his store — not to record crime but to record police misconduct.
Isn’t it about time we reined in our completely out of control police departments?