BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) – A class action lawsuit announced Wednesday by two high-profile attorneys accuses the city of Beverly Hills and Police Captain Scott Dowling of targeting people of color under the guise of the department’s “Operation Safe Streets.”
“I was scared. I never been to jail in my life,” said Jasmine Williams, a Pennsylvania nurse who was arrested, along with her boyfriend Kahlil White, on the first day of their vacation for riding scooters on the sidewalk and, allegedly, resisting arrest.READ MORE: Man In Critical Condition After Being Stabbed In Lancaster
The couple, however, thinks there was another reason for their arrest.
“The case was dismissed because they knew we were being charged falsely, for being black,” White said.
Williams and White’s case are just one of 60 examples cited in a racial profiling class action suit brought against the city by Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd, and local attorney Brad Gage.
“If we let them get away with this and we don’t hold them accountable, will we have a George Floyd in Beverly Hills, California, next?” Ben Crump said Wednesday.
According to the lawsuit, the task force arrested 106 people, out of which 105 were Black people and one Latino person. Gage says those numbers came from retired cops and the crimes included offenses like rollerskating.READ MORE: Man Shot to Death In Los Angeles
Former Versace Vice-President Salehe Bembury is a part of the lawsuit. Bembury posted video to Instagram last fall of Beverly Hills Police officers asking for his identification and patting him down for weapons because he jaywalked. The video went viral.
“I was just walking down the street. This is a little ridiculous,” Bembury can be seen saying to police in the video.
“We do not want to see racial profiling because it’s dangerous, because it’s wrong, and because a civilized society should never accept,” Brad Gage said Wednesday.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Dominick Rivetti said in a statement, “The women and men of the BHPD take an oath to protect human life and enforce the law regardless of race.”
Chief Rivetti also said that Williams and White were warned earlier in the day about riding scooters on the sidewalk and were only taken into custody after committing the same violation later, as well as providing false information to an officer.MORE NEWS: One Dead In 210 Freeway Collision
According to Rivetti, the task force was created last summer after a significant rise in calls about, among other things, burglaries and shoplifting. In a period of five weeks, he says officers recovered 13 loaded firearms.