The Florida NAACP is requesting an investigation into the Miami Gardens Police Department after a convenience store owner says his employees and customers are being targeted by police for aggressive questioning and petty arrests.
The organization asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the police department’s "Zero Tolerance Policy," which they say could also be the cause of racial profiling.
“It’s to bring a solution to the feeling of mistrust and tension that has gone to an all-time high,” said Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference.
Obi Nweze said the NAACP wants to have an outside entity do an impartial investigation into the matter in order to “restore Miami Gardens back to the community that it once was and can be.”
The call for the investigation came after Alex Saleh, the owner a 207 Quickstop in 207th Street, claims the Miami Gardens Police Department is conducting illegal stops and searches as well as racial profiling at his store, the Miami Herald reported.
One of his employees, Earl Sampson, has been arrested dozens of times, the newspaper reported. Sampson has been stopped and questioned by police 258 times in four years, and has been searched more than 100 times and jailed 56 times, the Herald reported.
But David Honig, special counsel for the Florida NAACP, said the owner and employees of the Miami Gardens 207 Quickstop might not be the only ones affected by the "Zero Tolerance Policy."
“Some may be fearful of coming forward in public on their own,” Honig said. “They will be less likely to have that fear when it’s with federal investigators.”
Miami Gardens Police said they are doing the best they can to protect the city's citizens.
Honig said the ultimate goal of requesting an investigation is for the people of Miami Gardens to feel safe.
“In order for people to be safe they have to know that they can call the police and be protected,” Honig said.