Just two days after the NAACP said that the Miami Gardens Police Department may be committing “the most pervasive, most invasive, and most unjustified pattern of police harassment in the nation,” the city’s police chief has resigned.
Matthew Boyd was the first and only person to lead the force, which was formed in 2007. The officers have been accused of racially profiling both customers and employees at a local convenience store that was participating in a “zero tolerance” program meant to reduce crime by aggressively targeting suspicious-looking people. Store owner Alex Saleh got much more than he bargained for when he agreed to participate in the program. Perhaps most egregiously: One employee of the 207 Quickstop, Earl Sampson, was arrested 419 times for trespassing in the past five years, according to city records.
In response, Saleh installed 15 video cameras to record the routine harassment and to call into question how somebody can be trespassing while they’re at work. After the Miami Herald released some of his footage last month of cops manhandling elderly patrons and illegally searching the premises, it became national news reported by places like NPR and MSNBC.
Despite the national outrage, Boyd was quick to defend his police officers. He cited Miami Gardens’ zero-tolerance policy and its high crime rate, which is indeed among the highest in the county. (Last year the area saw 25 murders, 16 forcible rapes, and 369 robberies, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.) Still, Quickstop 207 has never been robbed once in the 17 years that Saleh has owned the store.