Brand New? Racial Profiling In African American Barbershops

October 5, 2015

Ever since the pre and post election of our First Black Family, black hair, black lifestyle and culture has been in heavy rotation within every aspect of the media as if we never existed before.  Some in a positive light, and some just pure hatred.

Everyone knows that racial profiling has always existed, but racial profiling at beauty and barber salons?  That's something new.  At-least I've never heard of it.  What is the world coming to where racist law enforcement are finding more than a ridiculous number of ways to destroy the black community?

A lawsuit filed in Moreno Valley, CA on Wednesday alleges Riverside County law enforcement officers conducted racially motivated raids on black-operated barber shops with claims of looking for health code violations.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, along with Los Angeles-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw, filed the 11-page complaint in U.S. District Court in Riverside, alleging the city of Moreno Valley, its police department and the California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology violated the civil rights of three Moreno Valley barbers and their customers.

According to the ACLU filing, Moreno Valley police officers and state inspectors, without showing any legal justification, raided the Hair Shack, 24594 Sunnymead Blvd., and Fades Unlimited, 24150 Alessandro Blvd., on April 2, 2008.

Both shops are staffed by African-American barbers, and the clientele is almost exclusively black, according to the lawsuit.

“At all relevant times, the Hair Shack and Fades Unlimited have served as community and social centers for African-American residents of Moreno Valley,” the lawsuit states. “The atmosphere in each place was friendly.”

Moreno Valley police officers and county Code Enforcement officers accompanied state inspectors inside the barber shops and blocked the front and back entrances, preventing anyone from leaving, according to the ACLU.

At the Hair Shack, police officers looked into drawers and cabinets and questioned customers, according to the lawsuit.

“The officers never claimed that they had a warrant to conduct a search and never produced a warrant,” the suit says.

At Fades Unlimited, “officers questioned employees and customers, collected drivers' licenses from them and ran warrant checks on them,” according to the complaint.

“When one barber expressed his objections to the search, an officer handcuffed him, took him to a police car in the parking lot, placed him handcuffed in the back of the car, and told him they had found an outstanding warrant,” the suit says. “After about 10 minutes, officers released the barber and allowed him back inside the shop.”

Hair Shack owner Kevon Gordon, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he and his customers were “treated like criminals simply because of the color of our skin.”

“It was sickening,” he said. “I have lost good customers and had my reputation called into question in a community where I've been working for 20 years. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.”

Similar inspections had taken place at Fades Unlimited and three other black-owned barber shops on previous occasions, according to the ACLU.