Delaware State University students received an education about potential racial profiling and questionable law enforcement practices, with a charter bus traveling through Georgia as their classroom.
It’s certain to be a lesson they’ll long remember, but its occurrence has raised eyebrows well beyond the DSU campus in Dover.
Here’s our coverage:
Delaware State University’s women’s lacrosse team was traveling north on I-95 in Liberty County, Georgia, southwest of Savannah, on April 20. Bus driver Tim Jones was initially told he was improperly traveling in the left lane when the bus was pulled over.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office deputies removed players’ bags from the vehicle’s cargo bay to search after asking Jones to open it. Police had a drug-sniffing dog at the scene.
Deputies knew those on board were on a lacrosse team.
“If there is something in there that’s questionable,” the deputy speaking on the bus said, “please tell me now because if we find it, guess what? We’re not gonna be able to help you.” For more, click here.
If the charter bus was carrying a Notre Dame team, this never would have happened.
So said Patrick Campanelli, a civil rights attorney in suburban Chicago and father of one of the Delaware State University lacrosse players aboard a bus stopped and searched by Liberty County, Georgia, deputies on April 20. For more, click here.
Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman defended the stop, which occurred on April 20.
He said after speaking with deputies and reviewing video and other aspects of the incident, he does “not believe any racial profiling took place.”
But many who were on the bus during the stop felt otherwise, saying there was no reason for deputies to search their belongings after stopping the bus for a minor traffic infraction. For more, click here.
Body camera footage from Georgia deputies who stopped a Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team bus late last month directly contradicts Tuesday statements by the sheriff who defended the stop.
In a public address, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman said “no personal items on the bus or person(s) were searched” during the April 20 stop. But the bodycam footage, which Delaware Online/The News Journal has obtained and made publicly available without editing, shows deputies rifling through players’ backpacks and bags – something those on the bus have said for days. For more, click here.
Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings is “deeply troubled” by the stop and search of a bus carrying the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team last month, she wrote In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting a review.
Jennings called it “a troubling incident that is deserving of your attention” in her correspondence to U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke. Jennings expressed gratitude to Clarke for the incident already being on “your office’s radar.” For more, click here.
The bus ride back to Delaware State University on April 20 was quiet.
Freshman lacrosse player Saniya Craft and her teammates should have been celebrating the end of the season. Instead, Craft spent over half an hour watching and recording a traffic stop-turned-drug search in Liberty County, Georgia that left her and the primarily Black team “confused” and “frightened.”
At the same time, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. For more, click here.
Delaware State University president Tony Allen said the Liberty County sheriff’s statement and deputies’ body-camera video “raise more questions than answers” in a statement Wednesday.
Allen said he spoke directly to Sheriff William Bowman on Tuesday about the April 20 incident on Interstate 95 in Georgia when the DSU women’s lacrosse team’s bus was stopped by deputies who cited a minor traffic violation, then searched for drugs. For more, click here.
A Georgia sheriff defended his deputies controversial search of a bus carrying predominately Black student-athletes from an HBCU bound for Delaware in a video recorded Wednesday.
In an exclusive video interview supplied to the Savannah Morning News, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman told freelance photographer Lewis Levine that deputies did nothing wrong during a traffic stop involving women’s lacrosse players from Delaware State University. For more, click here.
Prominent Georgia attorneys question the actions of sheriff’s deputies in Liberty County, Georgia, some even speculating that they violated the civil rights of student-athletes from a Delaware HBCU when they searched the lacrosse players’ motorcoach.
Video footage of a traffic stop by Liberty County deputies, who pulled over and searched a bus filled with student-athletes from Delaware State University traveling home from a match in Florida, has already brought calls for legal consequences. For more, click here.
On the surface, the Delaware State University’s graduate commencement ceremony seemed like business as usual – at least, by pandemic standards.
Masked guests, graduates and faculty packed Memorial Hall basketball court as Pomp and Circumstance played. Students – the largest graduate school class in DSU’s history – shook hands with trustees and received their diplomas.
But the shadow of the women’s lacrosse team’s traffic stop in Georgia in April loomed over the ceremony. It wove its way into the remarks given by the university president and lieutenant governor. It even inspired National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to rewrite his keynote speech Thursday morning before he took the podium. For more, click here.
Delaware State University’s southern swing to close its women’s lacrosse season was a bit of a homecoming for freshman Brianna Johanson.
The Naples, Florida, resident relished the chance to play games in her home state. She’d cracked the starting lineup late in the year and scored one of just five Hornets goals in their last three games on the trip.
“We’re still a growing program,” she said, “but we did make a lot of progress … I was very excited to go back home for games. We had a great time, even on the bus, a 12-hour ride back. We were kinda dreading it but everything was going good until that happened and it was just, very honestly, scary. And it was just something that none of us expected.”For more, click here.
State NAACP leaders want to know why Delaware State University remained silent for nearly three weeks after Georgia deputies stopped and searched a charter bus and personal belongings of its womens lacrosse team on April 20.
DSU said nothing publicly until after the student newspaper published a video and news article on May 4 revealing the incident, which has raised questions of racial profiling as well as debatable police practices. For more, click here.