We previously reported on the now viral police searching of a bus full of Delaware State University lacrosse students, and now that unfortunate event is being addressed by Delaware’s governor. Learn more in the release from Gloria Oladipo at The Guardian.
John Carney says stop and search of bus carrying lacrosse team from Delaware State University ‘upsetting and concerning’
The governor of Delaware has publicly condemned authorities in Georgia who searched a bus carrying a lacrosse team from a historically Black college, in what many called an instance of racial profiling.
John Carney, a Democrat, released a statement about the incident, in which police officers searched the bus carrying the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team after stopping the driver for a traffic violation.
“I have watched video of this incident – it is upsetting, concerning and disappointing,” Carney said.
“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. It’s especially hard when it impacts our own community.”
The incident was first reported by the Delaware State school paper, the Hornet Newspaper, in April.
The bus driver, Tim Jones, who is Black, was stopped by officers in Liberty county, Georgia, for reportedly driving in the left lane. During the stop, officers climbed aboard and informed students they would be searching their luggage for drugs.
“If there is anything in your luggage, we’re probably gonna find it,” said one officer in video of the incident. “I’m not looking for a little marijuana, but I’m pretty sure you guys’ chaperones will probably be disappointed if we find it.”
Officers proceeded to conduct the apparently unlawful search, rifling the suitcases of team members and using K-9 dogs. No drugs were found.
The Delaware State coach, Pamella Jenkins, who was on the bus, called the search “very traumatizing”, adding that her players remained “composed” throughout.
“The infuriating thing was the assumption of guilt on their [deputies’] behalf,” Jenkins told the Delaware News Journal. “That was what made me so upset because I trust my girls.”
“Before entering the motorcoach, the deputies were not aware that this school was historically Black or aware of the race or the occupants due to the height of the vehicle and tint of the windows,” Bowman said.
Bowman also said police did not search the personal belongings of any lacrosse team members – a sharp contrast from the accounts of several people who were on the bus.
In a letter to the school community on Monday, the Delaware State president, Tony Allen, said Carney, the office of the state attorney general, the state congressional delegation and the Congressional Black Caucus had been informed of the incident.
“They, like me, are incensed,” Allen wrote. “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.”
In his statement, Carney said his office would do “everything we can to assist the university with learning more about the incident and any appropriate next steps”.
“I’m proud of our students for handling the experience with remarkable composure, though I’m sorry they were made to go through it at all,” the governor said.
Check out the officer’s body cam footage from the stop: