Black protesters file class action lawsuit over Beverly Hills arrests

Two Black visitors to Beverly Hills in 2020 who say they were wrongfully arrested while protesting the actions of police during the "Operation Safe Street" program are suing the city and the head of the program.

Jasmine Williams and Khalil White brought the proposed class-action complaint Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that Capt. Scott Dowling's efforts to make the city safer ended up with 105 out of 106 of the arrestees being Black. The civil rights suit seeks unspecified damages.

A representative for the city did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Dowling was in charge of "Operation Safe Street," also known as the "Rodeo Drive Task Force," from March 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, and the only person arrested who was not Black was a Latino who appeared Black, according to the suit. Dowling referred to Blacks as "lazy" and laughed after viewing a video entitled "Yellow Fever With Soul" that was made by two Beverly Hills officers in 2015 and made fun of Blacks and Asians, the suit states.

Many of those detained during the program were simply riding roller skates or scooters and Dowling ordered those on his team to arrest and interrogate Blacks who traveled on Rodeo Drive, according to the suit.

"While African-Americans as a class were arrested for such actions, Caucasians ... who engaged in the same actions were not arrested," the suit states. "Thus, the defendants engaged in racial profiling."

Williams and White, while visiting Beverly Hills on Sept. 7, were riding a scooter and "protesting the unlawful detention and citing the continuous racial targeting of individuals of color" when they allegedly were handcuffed and arrested on "multiple fabricated charges." The two spent the night in jail. 

"They were arresting Black people for being Black in Beverly Hills," attorney Ben Crump stated during a press conference.  "Our system turned a blind eye or even worse, our system intentionally sent a Black man to jail even though they were innocent and committed no crime," Crump added. 

Khalil White says he was vacationing in LA with his girlfriend at the time of the arrest. He says the arrest was dramatizing and he didn’t deserve it, for simply riding a scooter on Rodeo Drive. 

A judge tossed all the charges and the case was dismissed. 
 

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