May 13, 2022 - Sports

Search of HBCU's lacrosse team draws racial profiling claims

A screenshot of a YouTube video with a law enforcement officer addressing a team on a bus.
Screenshot: YouTube

The Delaware State women's lacrosse team recently saw a traffic stop in Georgia turn into a search for drugs. Now, the HBCU is demanding answers.

Why it matters: The school believes this was a case of racial profiling and is pursuing legal recourse as the incident — which was caught on video — gains national attention.

Details: The lacrosse team was returning home from a game in Florida on April 20 when their bus was pulled over in Liberty County, Georgia, for driving in the wrong lane.

  • Players noticed their bags from under the bus were being searched by officers, all of whom were white (bodycam footage). They then boarded the bus and said they were looking for drugs.
  • "If there is something in [your luggage] ... please tell me now because if we find it, guess what? We're not going to be able to help you," said the officer (video). "Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia."
  • The players don't believe the police had probable cause. No drugs were found and no citations were given. The initial stop is also being contested since the lane they were in restricts trucks, not buses.

What they're saying: "The biggest surprise was seeing the dogs immediately pulled out," one player told SI. "That shows the immediate effects of driving while Black."

The other side: William Bowman, Liberty County's first Black sheriff, told the Savannah Morning News that the search was legal because it was prompted by a K9 dog "alerting" the officers to something. He admitted they "frequently have false positive alerts."

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