Miami Stop-and-Frisk Program Labels 5-Year-Olds as ‘Suspicious’, 8,500 Kids Searched by Cops
A new investigation by Fusion has found some outrageous evidence of incredibly questionable practices by Miami Gardens police as part of their version of the controversial Stop-and-Frisk program.
For example, police stopped a “young black man” who, per the police report, was “wearing gray sweatpants, a red hoodie and black gloves” which the officer wrote gave him “just cause” to stop and question him as a “suspicious person.”
That “suspicious person” was an 11-year-old boy on his way to football practice.
In all, Miami Gardens police have stopped 56,922 people between 2008 and 2013, roughly half of the entire city’s population. Not one person was arrested. In all, police have written up 99,980 reports of such stops.
Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos Martinez says “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.”
According to the Fusion report, “some residents were stopped, questioned, and written up multiple times within minutes of each other, by different officers. Children were stopped by police in playgrounds. Senior citizens were stopped and questioned near their retirement home, including a 99-year-old man deemed to be ‘suspicious.’ Officers even wrote a report identifying a five-year-old child as a ‘suspicious person.’”
Martinez says “you’re essentially saying you have reasonable suspicion to stop everybody in your community. That’s crazy, because that means they’re exercising no discretion.”
One man, 28-year-old Earl Sampson, has worked at a convenience store “that has become the epicenter for police stops” for three years. Sampson says he’s been stopped more than 200 times. Sampson says “they walked through the door, grabbed me and just take me out. I told them I work here and they said they don’t care.”
The store’s owner Alex Saleh has filed a civil rights suit against the police department. He says “I see how officers walk in and take everybody. I see that as abuse.”
Saleh said he has installed security cameras, not to capture crime but to film police misconduct.
According to the Fusion report, “in January 2012, Alex says he gave his employee Earl Sampson a place to live inside the store to protect him from the police. But even that was no deterrent. In his security video, police are seen storming into Earl’s bedroom in the back of the store. Then Alex Saleh is seen stepping in, demanding police leave Earl alone. Moments later, the police can be seen turning around and leaving the store.”