Lawsuit: Of 106 people arrested by Rodeo Drive special task force, 105 are Black

Lawsuit: Of 106 people arrested by Rodeo Drive special task force, 105 are Black

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:

“The women and men of BHPD take an oath to protect human life and enforce the law – regardless of race.  Any violation of this pledge is contrary to the values of this department.  We take all concerns regarding the conduct of our officers very seriously.  
In response to information shared at a press conference today, it is important to note that Mr. White and Ms. Williams were warned earlier that day that riding a scooter on the sidewalk in Beverly Hills was prohibited.  At that time, no enforcement action was taken. When committing the same violation later the same day and also providing false information to a police officer, Mr. White and Ms. Williams were taken into custody.
Our department’s practice is to contact and question individuals when we believe they may be involved in criminal activity or another violation of the law.
Last summer, our department responded to a significant increase in calls for service in our business community.  These calls included burglaries, shoplifting, pedestrian and vehicle code violations, street gambling, public intoxication, marijuana smoking and more.  This rise in crime during the pandemic and following months of civil unrest was not unique to Beverly Hills.  
We received daily complaints from Rodeo Drive businesses and, in response to community concerns, our department created the Rodeo Drive Team to ensure proper staffing and appropriate response times.  As a result of the newly created team, in a span of just five weeks, we recovered thirteen loaded firearms from individuals on Rodeo Drive.
This is unprecedented in the history of Beverly Hills.
As we responded to these issues, our officers also discovered widespread fraudulent use of California unemployment benefits.  
We recovered over a quarter-million dollars in cash and fraudulent EDD cards with a potential value of $3 million dollars.  The majority of those arrested were not residents of California, despite possessing and using California unemployment benefit cards.  I am proud that our department was one of the first to uncover the gross abuse of our state’s unemployment system. Through our efforts, many cities found similar fraud, and the state began to repair a very broken system.
I want to reassure the Beverly Hills community and the world that this department remains committed to keeping our community safe while enforcing the law with respect and dignity for all.”

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.”

Beverly Hills Police Department has unjustly used its position of power to target innocent POC! We must address this & hold the city of Beverly Hills accountable for the implicit bias & discrimination operating within their police department! We CANNOT take this lightly!

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 1, 2021

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.”

Beverly Hills police stopped Salehe Bembury (VP at @Versace) for “jaywalking” aka #WalkingWhileBlack. Would they have treated a jogging white woman in Beverly Hills the same way?🤔

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 7, 2020

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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