A lawsuit announced Wednesday accuses the Beverly Hills Police Department, the city, and one Capt. Scott Dowling specifically of racial profiling after attorneys found 105 of 106 people arrested as part of a city task force are Black. The other person is Latino, CBS Los Angeles reported. The lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court is spearheaded by noted civil rights attorneys Ben Crump, Bradley Gage, and Mark Harris. It centers the city police department’s Operation Safe Streets and the Rodeo Drive Task Force.
“This Beverly Hills task force was created under the guise of safety, but don’t let anyone fool you,” Crump said in the release. “In reality, these task forces were unjustifiably targeting people of color for things that white residents and visitors do all the time without incident.”
The attorneys are pursuing class-action status for the suit, the Los Angeles Times reported. Cited in the lawsuit are 60 alleged examples of racial profiling, including the case of Jasmine Williams, a Pennsylvania nurse, and her boyfriend, Kahlil White. Williams and White are the only named plaintiffs in the suit, the newspaper reported. They were arrested the first day of their vacation and accused of resisting arrest when they were stopped for riding scooters on the sidewalk, CBS Los Angeles reported. “The case was dismissed because they knew we were being charged falsely, for being Black,” White said.
Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said in a statement on Wednesday:
Crump and the other attorneys announced the lawsuit at a press conference in front of Beverly Hills City Hall. “Until we confront implicit bias head-on, until we confront racism head-on, until we confront discrimination head-on, everywhere in America there’s a threat for Black people to face grave injustices,” Crump said at the media event. Gage described the policing approach embraced by the Beverly Hills Police Department as “Gee, that’s suspicious—Black people shopping in Beverly Hills.”
Salehe Bembury, former vice president of the Italian fashion brand Versace, is also a part of the lawsuit, CBS Los Angeles reported. Bembury, holding a Versace bag in an Instagram video he posted on Oct. 1, 2020, said he was searched for shopping at the store he works for “and just being Black.” An officer is shown in the video asking Bembury if he has any weapons and to produce his ID. He told the officer and another cop on the scene he didn’t have any weapons, and he gave them his ID. “So you checked my ID. What’s going on?” Bembury asked toward the end of the encounter. “Do I have anything on my record? I’m good to go. That’s what I thought.”
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