LIBERTY COUNTY, Ga. — Delaware State University officials are calling a traffic stop by Liberty County Sheriff’s deputies racial profiling.
On April 20, the women’s lacrosse team was heading back from a competition in Florida and their bus was crossing Interstate 95 in Liberty County when a sheriff’s detail pulled over their bus for what deputies are saying was a traffic violation.
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“After that, they came on the bus and they told us they were going to be checking through our luggage,” sophomore lacrosse player Sydney Anderson told WPVI. “They didn’t ask us, they told us.”
In a YouTube video recorded by upcoming sophomore Saniya Craft, a deputy is heard telling the team that deputies were looking for drugs.
Body camera footage released by Sheriff William Bowman also shows a K-9 officer sniffing the students’ luggage.
One player’s family member met her in Florida and gave her a package which a deputy opened, body camera footage showed.
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Deputies did not find anything illegal.
The team has expressed they felt they were racially profiled and DSU President Tony Allen agrees in a letter he wrote addressing the traffic stop.
“They, like me, are incensed,” he said, addressing the university community. “We have also reached out to Georgia Law Enforcement and are exploring options for recourse—legal and otherwise—available to our student-athletes, our coaches, and the University.”
The story has made waves on social media and the team has gained support from various entities.
It's unimaginable to think the Delaware State women's lacrosse team had to endure this situation.— USA Lacrosse (@USA_Lacrosse) May 8, 2022
We are seeking to understand how and why this could have happened and offer our full support to the Delaware State players, coaches and staff.https://t.co/FVZgDPRDK0
On Tuesday, Bowman held a news conference where he addressed the situation after he was bombarded with calls and social media reaction.
He maintained that his deputies followed protocol.
“I believe that the stop was legal, but I also understand my duty to help the public understand law enforcement while seeking ways to improve services,” he said.
DSU does not plan to allow the situation to fade.
“We do not intend to let this or any other incident like it pass idly by. We are prepared to go wherever the evidence leads us. We have video. We have allies. Perhaps more significantly, we have the courage of our convictions,” Allen said.
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