Delaware Lacrosse Team Says They Were Racially Profiled at Traffic Stop in Georgia

Members of the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team said they experienced racism in Georgia on April 20 at the hands of sheriff’s deputies, who students said boarded their charter bus and accused them of drug possession.

Sophomore Sydney Anderson detailed her experience aboard the team bus in an article for the historically black university’s student newspaper, The Hornet Online.

According to the article, sheriff’s deputies pulled over the team’s bus, driven by Tim Jones, after it drove in the lefthand lane – a traffic violation, according to police. Deputies then boarded the bus and said they would be searching the team’s bags for any possible narcotics, using police K-9s and calling in additional units, according to Anderson’s account.

About 30 people were on the bus, local media reported.

Anderson said the officers were tossing personal items and belongings as they searched for narcotics.

Freshman Saniya Craft, a family member of Elijah McClain, who was killed in 2019 by police, recorded this footage as the incident unfolded, she said.

In the video, an officer says, “If there is anything in your luggage, we’re probably gonna find it … I’m not looking for a little marijuana, but I’m pretty sure you guys’ chaperones will probably be disappointed if we find it.” He then said, “If there is something in there that is questionable, please tell me now,” adding, “marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia.”

According to Anderson’s article, the officers checked bags for about 20 minutes and explained it was “necessary, in case of child trafficking or drugs,” Anderson wrote.

“The fact of the matter is the underlying racism the Delaware women’s lacrosse team endured. The officers tried to get them to admit to having drugs, while there was none in their possession,” Anderson said. “The officers conducted an unlawful search because there was no probable cause. Majority of the team members had never experienced an encounter with the police, making this a traumatic incident for them.”

University President Dr Tony Allen issued a statement after the incident, in which he said “nothing illegal was discovered in this search,” and the school was “exploring options for recourse – legal and otherwise.”

Allen wrote, “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.”

Anderson told Storyful the police were members of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO). Local outlet WHYY said a deputy offered no additional information and said the incident was “under investigation.” The county is about 25 miles southwest of Savannah.

Storyful has reached out to the LCSO for comment. Credit: Saniya Craft via Storyful

Video transcript

- Why I'm coming on the bus right now is to tell y'all, look, we're going to check y'all's luggage, OK? If there is anything in y'all's luggage, we're probably going to find it, OK? I'm not looking for a little bit of marijuana, but I'm pretty sure you guys' chaperones are probably going to be disappointed in you if we find any. You guys are on a lacrosse team, correct?

- Yes.

- So if there is something in there that is questionable, please tell me now. Because if we find it, guess what. We're not going to be able to help you, OK? We guard the state of Georgia. Marijuana is still illegal in the state of Georgia.

Anything that you can put marijuana in, maybe a device where you smoke in, maybe something that you would weigh in, like a set of scales, anything. If there's nothing, then I'm thankful. It'll make my job a lot easier. We're going to get this done and we'll have you guys on the road, OK? You guys have any more questions for me?

- No sir.

- Have I explained it pretty good?

- Yes, sir.

- Give us a few minutes, and you guys will be on your way, OK?

- (SINGING) [INAUDIBLE] da, da, da, da.

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