Black Man in Florida Arrested 62 Times for Trespassing--While Working In His Own Store

Human Rights

A Miami Gardens man has been stopped and questioned 258 times over the last four years.  He’s been searched more than 100 times.  He’s been thrown in jail 56 times.  And almost every time he’s run into trouble with the police, he has been working in his store.

The Miami Herald reveals the shocking story of Earl Sampson as part of a blockbuster investigation into the Miami Herald police department.  The police are now facing the possibility of a civil rights lawsuit filed by the store owner where Sampson works.

Sampson, who is black, is an employee at a convenience store in Miami Gardens, just north of Miami, Florida.  The police began to enter the store after the owner, Alex Saleh, signed up for a “zero tolerance” crime program in a city struggling with violence.  But Saleh soon came to regret his decision.

The police began to enter his store to arrest employees and customers and sometimes used force on them.  Sampson is one of the victims.  He has been routinely harassed by the police, and has been arrested for trespassing 62 times--in the store where he works.  His worst offense has been possession of marijuana.

After witnessing police actions like coming into his store unannounced to arrest his employees, Saleh dropped out of the “zero tolerance” program.  But the cops didn’t stop.  Now, he wants to file suit against the police department.  The police chief, though, sees nothing wrong.  “Rest assured that our department is fully committed to complying with the laws that govern us,” the chief, Matthew Boyd, told the Miami Herald in a statement.

The police department’s way of crime-fighting rests on the “broken windows” theory, which posits that cleaning up small crimes like loitering and trespassing leads to a culture where crime is discouraged.  

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