ⓘ Earl Sampson is a black man from Miami Gardens, Florida, who, beginning in 2008, was repeatedly arrested by police for trespassing while he was at his own place ..


ⓘ Earl Sampson

Earl Sampson is a black man from Miami Gardens, Florida, who, beginning in 2008, was repeatedly arrested by police for trespassing while he was at his own place of employment. The Miami Gardens Police Department convinced the owner of the Quickstop convenience store, Alex Saleh, to sign up for "The Zero-Tolerance Zone Trespassing Program". Afterwards police began targeting black customers who were standing in line to buy items at the store. Police officers also focused their attention on Sampson, whose only criminal conviction was for marijuana possession. During a four-year period, Sampson was questioned 258 times, searched over 100 times, arrested for trespassing 62 times, and jailed 56 times; the majority of these events occurred at the Quickstop. Sampson pleaded guilty to the trespassing charges filed against him, since pleading not guilty would have meant remaining in jail, posting bond, meeting trial dates, and spending money.

Saleh, who had known Sampson since he was 14, criticized the police for targeting Sampson, but the targeting continued, and began occurring throughout Miami Gardens. In response, Saleh installed 15 cameras in his store, and used the resulting videotapes to prove that Sampson was behaving properly when targeted by police. A portion of a February 2015 This American Life episode, "Inconvenience Store", Act One of "548: Cops See It Differently, Part Two," chronicled the Sampson incident. The Miami Gardens police never sanctioned any of its members. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic wrote, "Neither a public defender nor a judge was able to spot or stop this miscarriage of justice either. No one inside the system successfully exposed or remedied the abusive situation. Things only changed for Sampson when the store owner got video evidence and took it to the media.

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