Feds say sheriffs mistreated blacks in Antelope Valley

Thumbnail image for sheriff-car-lao.jpgA two-year civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department concludes that deputies violated the Constitution and federal laws in the treatment of blacks and other residents of public housing in the Antelope Valley. The announcement cited a pattern of unreasonable force, intimidation and harassment, widespread use of unlawful backseat detentions in violation of LASD policy, and evidence that African Americans and Latinos were more likely to be stopped and searched than whites. From the LA Times:

Residents in the Antelope Valley have complained of surprise inspections of government-subsidized, or Section 8, housing intended to ensure residents are meeting the terms of their assistance.

The checks often involved armed sheriff's deputies, they said, which added a level of intimidation. Activists have also contended that authorities have threatened to return with search warrants if tenants did not consent to checks of their homes.

The Justice Department found many of those allegations to be credible.

Officials found a "pattern or practice of discrimination against African Americans in its enforcement of the Housing Choice Voucher Program in violation of the Fair Housing Act," according to a statement released Friday.....

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore downplayed the findings but said the department is already in the process of implementing reforms.

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