SAN DIEGO, CA – The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU-SDIC) filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court yesterday against the City of San Diego. The long-standing civil rights organization seeks to change current San Diego Police Department policy allowing police officers to collect DNA samples from minors without a warrant or parental consent and challenge this unconstitutional stop.
The suit stems from a March 2016 incident during which a group of teenage boys walking in the Logan Heights neighborhood’s Memorial Community Park were unlawfully stopped and frisked by police officers. Without a warrant and without seeking their parents’ permission, the officers unlawfully detained the juveniles, including Jamie Wilson’s 16-year-old son, telling them they would be released only after they gave consent to collection of their DNA.
The experience traumatized Jamie Wilson, her son, and other family members. Said Wilson, “too many people of color have endured racial discrimination and profiling on so many levels. My family is no exception and with the support of the ACLU, we’ve filed a lawsuit against the city. Let what happened to us be a lesson to the powers-that-be and all of San Diego about what our children deal with on a daily basis. The quality of policing in communities of color is inadequate and unjust. Our community demands better.”
The ACLU-SDIC is suing the city on behalf of Jamie Wilson and her unnamed son, viewing the incident as part of the troubling pattern of over-policing, racial bias, and unjustifiable surveillance in San Diego’s communities of color. A pattern that results in disproportionally higher numbers of black and brown people in the criminal justice system and contributes to mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement.
“I wish I could say incidents like this are uncommon, but sadly, we know otherwise," said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU-SDIC. “The concerns raised in this case are representative of what too many San Diegans of color contend with far too often: racial bias in our policing, violations of basic principles of privacy, and law enforcement’s practice of documenting black and brown youth in secret databases without parental involvement. We can and must do better."
Jamie Wilson will join representatives from the ACLU and other community partners to discuss these topics at a press conference on Wednesday, February 22 at 2pm. The press conference will be held in Logan Heights’ Memorial Community Park at 2901 Ocean View Blvd., San Diego.