RALEIGH, N.C. (WSPA) – A North Carolina university president said she was “outraged” by a traffic stop in Spartanburg County which she claimed targeted Black students.
Shaw University President Paulette Dillard released a statement Monday regarding the traffic stop which happened October 5 on an Upstate highway.
“In a word, I am ‘outraged.’ This behavior of targeting Black students is unacceptable and will not be ignored nor tolerated,” Dillard said. “Had the students been White, I doubt this detention and search would have occurred.”
Dillard described the traffic stop as a scene “reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s” with “armed police, interrogating innocent Black students, conducting searches without probable cause, and blood-thirsty dogs.”
Eighteen Shaw University students along with two staff advisors were traveling from Raleigh, North Carolina to attend the Center for Financial Advancement Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Traveling by contract bus, South Carolina Law Enforcement stopped the team in Spartanburg County under the pretext of a minor traffic violation,” Dillard explained. “A couple of officers boarded the bus and asked the driver where he was headed. Multiple sheriff deputies and drug-sniffing dogs searched the suitcases of the students and staff located in the luggage racks beneath the bus.”
Dillard said nothing illegal was found in the search, and the bus driver was was issued a warning ticket for improper lane use.
“The action taken by South Carolina Law Enforcement in Spartanburg County was unfair and unjust,” said Dillard. “I firmly believe had the bus been occupied by White students, they would not have been detained.”
According to Dillard, Shaw University’s General Counsel will investigate the situation and explore legal options for the students and university.
Last week, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office stepped up traffic enforcement along Interstate 85 and Interstate 26 as part of their Operation Rolling Thunder initiative.
The agency said 144 vehicles were searched and around officers found 900 traffic violations.
In April, a charter bus carrying the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team was pulled over on Interstate 95 in Georgia and the students’ luggage was searched.
Deputies in Liberty County were accused of racial profiling after body camera video from that stop was released.