80 out of the 90 people arrested by the patrol unit were Black, according to records obtained by the Los Angeles Times
Two Los Angeles attorneys in September accused an eight-member Beverly Hills Police unit of profiling and arresting Black people shopping along Rodeo Drive at disproportionately high rates, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Public records obtained by the Times support the claims made by attorneys Bradley Gage and Benjamin Crump — data reveals 80 out of the 90 people arrested by the team of officers designated to patrol the famed shopping strip last fall were Black.
Of the remaining 10 arrested by the Beverly Hills Police Department’s Rodeo Drive Team, four were Latino, three were white, two were Asian and one was unspecified, according to the Times.
Police have thus far remained silent as to why the operation overwhelmingly penalized Black shoppers, per the Times. However, documents reviewed by the outlet suggest the group began patrolling minor offenses but shifted to focusing on shoppers who officers believed were spending money acquired by defrauding California’s unemployment system.
City Spokesperson Keith Sterling, who declined to comment why so many of those suspected were Black, told the Times that although 107 suspects in total were arrested for allegedly participating in the scam, only about 10 have been charged thus far to his knowledge.
The police unit was originally directed to reduce activity such as “loud music, gambling, double parking, illegal street vending and ‘marijuana smoke drifting into stores,’” as well as other minor quality-of-life infractions, per the Times.
Records reportedly show the unit arrested 59 people suspected of identify theft, 36 suspected of conspiracy, and 12 suspected of carrying a concealed firearm. Sterling told the Times that some were suspected of multiple offenses.
Gage and Crump have filed a lawsuit against the department on behalf of two people arrested by the unit, which the two attorneys announced on the steps of Beverly Hills City Hall in September.
“We are here because the Beverly Hills Police Department arrested African Americans for being Black on Rodeo Drive,” Crump said before a crowd of reporters and spectators, according to the Times.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Jasmine Williams, reportedly told those in attendance about her experience being arrested by officers who stopped her for riding a scooter along the sidewalk. “I was scared,” Williams said, according to the Times. “I’ve never been to jail in my life.”
Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Dominick Rivetti sent an email to residents responding to the lawsuit by denying Gage and Crump’s claims and stating that his officers were “committed to keeping our community safe while enforcing the law with respect and dignity for all,” the Times reported.
Two months after the Rodeo Drive Team of officers was formed, it disbanded on Oct. 24, according to the Times. Members of the unit were reportedly recognized by the city at its annual Employee Excellence Awards, receiving praise for their “outstanding job performance.”
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