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Ear to the Ground

Cops in Michigan and Florida Target Blacks in Grotesque Abuses of Power

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Posted on Nov 22, 2013
petercoti (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Fresh reports reveal stunningly disgusting behavior by police officers in suburban Detroit and in a small city just outside Miami. Stunning, as in Grosse Pointe Park cops allegedly caught in their own videos harassing African-Americans—one apparently mentally ill man was ordered to “dance like a chimp”—and Miami Gardens police arresting the same black man 62 times for trespassing at the store in which he works.

Really.

In reports first posted last week on the Detroit-centric website Motor City Muckraker, the Grosse Pointe Park police officers allegedly recorded their harassment of African-Americans and then shared the videos with their friends. Grosse Pointe Park adjoins Detroit to the east, and the boundary between the two cities offers one of the nation’s starkest dividing lines between the haves and the have-nots. From Motor City Muckraker:

Grosse Pointe Park police officers are capturing humiliating photos and videos of black men and texting them to friends and family, the Motor City Muckraker has found.

One of the main culprits is Officer Mike Najm, who texted a picture of a black man in the back of a trailer and typed, “Gotta love the coloreds.” In one video, Najm can be heard telling a mentally ill black man to sing.

Most of the videos are shot from squad cars while African American men are told to sing or “dance like a chimp.” Some of the subjects are even in the back of police cars.

The local Grosse Pointe News followed up the Muckraker posts Thursday, reporting that Grosse Pointe city officials were investigating.

In Miami Gardens, the police behavior is pure oppression. As The Miami Herald reported Friday, police officers have stopped and questioned a man named Earl Sampson 258 times in four years, searched him more than 100 times, and hauled him off to jail 56 times. Nearly all of the contacts were at the place where he works, the 207 Quickstop convenience store, where Sampson is a clerk for owner Alex Saleh.

The harassment—and Sampson wasn’t the only one targeted—became so bad that the shop owner, who initially invited the police in as part of a “zero tolerance” program, installed video cameras. As the Herald reports:

The videos show, among other things, cops stopping citizens, questioning them, aggressively searching them and arresting them for trespassing when they have permission to be on the premises; officers conducting searches of Saleh’s business without search warrants or permission; using what appears to be excessive force on subjects who are clearly not resisting arrest and filing inaccurate police reports in connection with the arrests.

“There is just no justifying this kind of behavior,’’ said Chuck Drago, a former police officer and consultant on police policy and the use of force. “Nobody can justify overstepping the constitution to fight crime.”

The Herald has posted a series of the videos on its website. City officials didn’t respond to Herald requests for comment. And Saleh is talking with the ACLU about a possible lawsuit.

—Posted by Scott Martelle.

 

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