A project of the Center for Community Change

Playing While Brown: Racial Profiling in West Palm Beach

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On March 26th, a group of people gathered to play soccer in a public park in West Palm Beach, Florida. Instead of enjoying an evening of sports and friends, however, eight of the players ended the night in handcuffs, facing deportation.

“It appears the young men were targeted for arrest and detention because of their skin color and national origin,” said PBCCIR organizer Isabel Vinent.  “They were completely peaceful, engaging in healthy sports activities as they had done for many months and actually making the parks along Flagler Drive safer for all residents, by playing their games there.” Coalition members believe that all communities have a right to feel safe while using public parks and recreational areas without being fearful that they will be selected and targeted because of their skin color or national origin.      The eight young men were arrested and put in handcuffs.

PBCCIR member Jill Hanson said, “it is shameful that right in front of West Palm Beach’s monument to America’s great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, such a blatantly illegal and intimidating raid took place.  Just as Dr. King protested against the exclusion of Black children from swimming pools, our members will protest this attempt to intimidate the immigrant community from using West Palm Beach’s playing fields.  We want everyone to know what is taking place.  We will not allow the silence to continue.”

On Monday, around thirty people gathered to protest the racial profiling. The lawyers and immigration rights supporters gathered to draw attention to the growing intimidation of immigrants that is happening nationwide (Joe Arpaio, anyone?).

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