The women’s lacrosse team from historically Black Delaware State University was returning to campus after playing three games in Florida and Georgia when their team bus was stopped by sheriff’s deputies from Liberty County, Georgia. Most of the players, coaches, and the bus driver are Black.
The deputies stopped the bus for traveling in the left lane. But police officers used dogs to search luggage stored in bins under the bus for 30 minutes. A video taken by a passenger shows deputies who boarded the bus telling them that “you guys are on a lacrosse team, correct? 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. You are in the state of Georgia.”
The president of the university and the governor of Delaware released statements objecting to the officers’ conduct. Kathleen Jennings, the attorney general of the state of Delaware, released a letter she sent to the U.S. Department of Justice that read in part:
“Based on the facts available to me — including several discussions with those impacted at Delaware State University — I’m deeply troubled by what occurred. A traffic stop (for what can charitably be called a minor infraction) led to a slew of sheriff’s deputies searching virtually every bag belonging to student athletes who were returning home from their season finale. I’m told that all the deputies were White, and almost everyone whose bags were searched is Black. These students and coaches were not in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. They hail from one of the oldest and finest HBCUs in the country. By all accounts these young women represented their school and our state with class — and they were rewarded with a questionable-at-best search through their belongings in an effort to find contraband that did not exist. Not only did the deputies find nothing illegal in the bags; they did not issue a single ticket for the alleged traffic infraction.”