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UCLA Employee Says He Was Racially Profiled And Arrested By Campus Police
A black UCLA facilities employee says he was the victim of racial profiling last week when he was arrested following a stop by campus police. Claudius E. Gaines III, 46, was driving home from his shift at UCLA last Wednesday night when he was stopped on Strathmore Drive, shortly before midnight, L.A. Times reports. According to Gaines' lawyer, Carl Douglas, officers told him that they were stopping him because his license plate light was out. Gaines said that he had just checked the light during another traffic stop on August 15, in which he was stopped for a broken rear light. Then, Douglas says the officer claimed he saw Gaines using his cell phone while driving. Gaines argued, taking the phone from his pocket and showing it to the officer, then putting his hands back on the steering wheel.
It was at this point that Douglas alleges the officer threatened to pepper-spray Gaines if he didn't get out of the car. He called for backup. Gaines got out of the car and was arrested for resisting arrest and obstruction. Because Gaines is a probationary employee, he is worried that he could lose his job. He was wearing his UCLA uniform and badge at the time of the traffic stop.
UCLA is disputing Gaines and Douglas' claims, saying that Gaines was arrested because he refused to provide the officer with his license or registration, then wouldn't get out of the car after being asked several times.
This allegation of racial profiling comes on the heels of a recent $500,000 settlement the university agreed to pay over accusations of racial profiling by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham. Cunningham filed a claim in January, accusing UCLA campus police of racial profiling and using excessive force when he was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt when leaving an L.A. Fitness in Westwood. He said that officers accused him of being a drug dealer when a bottle of high blood pressure pills fell out of his glovebox when he was looking for his papers. He says they then roughly detained him after he told officers he needed to look in his trunk for his documents. Cunningham was released when a sergeant the officers had called, who was also black, arrived.
UCLA is scheduled to have a community forum on racial profiling sometime this school year at UCLA Law School as a result of the Cunningham case. As for the settlement, $350,000 of it went to the newly created scholarship fund, the David S. Cunningham III Scholarship for Civil Rights.
This case also follows an incident Beverly Hills in which a black TV producer, Charles Belk, was detained for six hours because he fit the description of an alleged bank robber who had just hit a nearby bank. Belk complained in a Facebook post that he didn't understand why it took BHPD six hours to review surveillance video. After the post went viral, BHPD first sort of apologized, then actually apologized.