ACLU sues the city of San Francisco for targeting Black people to arrest and prosecute


The American Civil Liberties Union‏ have announced that they are “suing the city of San Francisco for specifically targeting Black people for arrest and prosecution,” said the organization in a tweet on Thursday.

According to details including in the complaint as reported by The Guardian, law officials in the city exclusively targeted Black folks during undercover drug arrests, which was part of a pattern of racial profiling.

In fact, during one operation, an undercover officer was seen on camera declining to buy drugs from an Asian woman and instead waited to buy from a black woman, who was later prosecuted.

“Our Constitution promises all people, regardless of race, equal protection under the law, the ACLU website states. “Yet the San Francisco Police Department has consistently singled out Black people for enforcement of criminal laws.”

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The website continues: “This targeted enforcement is racist and illegal. So the national ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and the law firm Durie Tangri LLP have sued the city of San Francisco seeking damages on behalf of Black plaintiffs harmed by the SFPD’s race-based policing. The U.S. Supreme Court made clear 132 years ago that law enforcement’s targeting of people based on their race is patently unconstitutional.”

While only 6 percent of the population in San Francisco is Black, law officials reportedly worked with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors federal authorities in 2013 and 2014 to arrest 37 Blacks for selling small amounts of drugs, the complaint states.

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“We’ve seen time and time again how racial bias has infected the San Francisco police department’s ability to administer equal enforcement of the law,” Novella Coleman, an ACLU staff attorney, said in an interview.

“These arrests show that San Francisco is continuing its long history of targeting non-white people for harsher treatment,” Ezekiel Edwards, Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, wrote on the website.

Despite a district judge’s assertion that there was “substantial evidence suggestive of racially selective enforcement,” the city of San Francisco has continued to defend its actions. Meanwhile, the ACLU was not aware of any involved officers facing disciplinary action, but one was promoted, the report states.

The police department “did not engage in selective enforcement”, John Coté, the spokesman for the city attorney, said in an email Thursday. “The evidence will show that San Francisco police acted in accordance with federal directives.”

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The statement also said that the department “prides itself on being one of the most diverse, forward-thinking and transparent law enforcement agencies in the country.”

Similarly, a LA Times investigation also recently revealed that officers involved in southern California drug enforcement efforts have stopped and searched thousands of Latino drivers looking for drugs, but uncovering nothing.