Delaware State officials said its women’s lacrosse team experienced what was described as a “trying and humiliating” ordeal after being subject to a search by Georgia law enforcement during a recent road trip that some considered racial profiling.
The team bus was returning from Florida when it was pulled over on I-95 in Liberty County last month. Several sheriff’s deputies with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, all white, stated they were searching for marijuana.
The university’s president, Tony Allen, posted a letter Monday saying he was “incensed” by the stop.
“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.”
A video recorded by a member of the team on the bus shows a deputy asking the team to tell them now if anyone has marijuana or devices associated with its use.
The incident was first reported by the school’s newspaper from an account by Sydney Anderson, a sophomore lacrosse player.
“If there is something in there that is questionable, please tell me now because if we find it, guess what? We’re not gonna be able to help you,” deputies said in the video. “Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia.”
Anderson wrote that the deputies “checked bags for 20 minutes, then explained it was necessary, in case of child trafficking or drugs.”
She went on to write that the team experienced “underlying racism” and that the officers tried to get players to incriminate themselves by admitting they were carrying drugs.
“I hope no one has to experience being accused of anything like that without probable cause,” said DSU coach Pamella Jenkins to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “I think everyone was in shock that this happened.”
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office did not comment on the matter.
John Carney, Delaware’s governor, said in a statement that the incident was “concerning and disappointing.”
“Moments like these should be relegated to part of our country’s complicated history, but they continue to occur with sad regularity in communities across our country,” Carney said. “It’s especially hard when it impacts our own community.”
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