The American Civil Liberties Union wants to know why police in southern California are storming Black barbershops wearing body armor, demanding that patrons show ID and even hauling them away in handcuffs when they question the officers’ motives, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The national human rights group filed a lawsuit in federal district court Wednesday alleging that officers in Moreno Valley targeted five African-American-owned barbershops last April, accompanying inspectors from the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology “on the pretense that the searches were just routine health-code inspections,” the Times reports.
The ACLU argues that while the state has an obligation to inspect barbershops, police actions raise serious civil-rights questions.
Among those concerns, the group notes, is whether state officials, which have a legal right of entry, sidled up with police because police could not get a search warrant of their own. Another major concern is whether police, which already have a strained relationship with the African-American community, will further exacerbate those tensions.
The ACLU says the raids look like the worst case of racial profiling.