A group of suspected Black drug dealers is demanding justice against law enforcement officials accused of racially targeting them in a sting operation. This comes more than a year after prosecutors dropped charges against them.
Six suspects arrested in “Operation Safe Schools” filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday, alleging that the San Francisco Police Department used racially selective enforcement tactics, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The joint sting operation by the police department and federal agents netted 37 suspected drug dealers between 2013 and 2015—all of them were Black. Video evidence and a pattern of arrests suggest that the law enforcement officials engaged in racist policing, the suit claims.
This legal action seeks foremost to “hold the actors in the San Francisco Police Department and the city itself accountable for the police department’s longstanding practices of engaging in racially discriminatory law enforcement,” said Novella Coleman, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney representing the six plaintiffs.
The civil liberties organization described San Francisco as “a hotbed of illegal race-based policing.”
NewsOne contacted the San Francisco Police Department, but a spokesperson declined to comment, instead directing questions to the city attorney’s office. The prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for an interview.
The lawsuit cited a survey that revealed a racially diverse group of drug dealers working in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco during the period of the sting operation. Yet law enforcement agents chose exclusively to arrest suspected Black dealers.
A 2015 video posted to YouTube showed a police officer saying to himself “f**king BMs” — a police code for Black males — while conducting surveillance during the sting. An undercover informant in the video also appears to shun an Asian dealer but purchase from a Black dealer.
The prosecutor dropped charges in 2017 after a judge agreed with the suspects’ attorneys that there was a pattern of racist arrests in the case.