DSU women’s lacrosse team subjected to narcotics search following minor traffic violation in Georgia

DOVER, Del. – “After playing three games in the hot southern heat, all the Delaware State women’s lacrosse team wanted to do was make it back to Delaware with ease. However, things went left when they got pulled over by Police in Georgia.” That’s the way Delaware State University Women’s Lacrosse player Sydney Anderson describes an encounter with Georgia law enforcement on April 20th, 2022.

Delaware State University (DSU) President Dr. Tony Allen says the team was on their way home from a game in Florida, when Georgia law enforcement pulled the bus over for a minor traffic violation. In a video captured by one of the athletes, officers can be seen onboard the bus informing the athletes that they would be searching the team’s luggage for narcotics. Anderson says the bus driver was then instructed to open the luggage compartment. Law enforcement officers and K9 units were photographed searching the luggage a short time later.

Anderson writes that the number of law enforcement responding to the traffic stop quickly multiplied. “They checked bags for 20 minutes, then explained it was necessary, in case of child trafficking or drugs. The fact of the matter is the underlying racism the Delaware Women’s lacrosse team endured. The officers tried to get them to admit to having drugs, while there was none in their possession. The officers conducted an unlawful search because there was no probable cause. Majority of the team members had never experienced an encounter with the police, making this a traumatic incident for them,” she wrote.

In a statement, Dr. Allen wrote, “To be clear, nothing illegal was discovered in the search, and all of our coaches and student-athletes comported themselves with dignity throughout a trying and humiliating process.”

DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes confirmed with 47 ABC that 25 athletes, two coaches, one trainer, and one bus driver were aboard when the incident unfolded. Dr. Allen says each person is now safe at home. However, he wrote “They, like me, are incensed. We have also reached out to Georgia Law Enforcement and are exploring options for recourse – legal or otherwise – available to our student-athletes, our coaches, and the University.”

Shortly after Anderson’s article was published in The Hornet Newspaper, Delaware’s top lawmakers responded. In a joint statement, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper called the incident “deeply disturbing”. The lawmakers went on to write in part:

“No one should be made to feel unsafe or humiliated by law enforcement or any entity who has sworn to protect and serve them. That’s especially true for students who have sought out [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] like Delaware State University with a long history of empowering communities of color that have far too often faced discrimination and other barriers to opportunity. We strongly support Dr. Allen’s decision to ‘go wherever the evidence leads’ him and his administration as they explore all possible options in response. Our offices stand ready to assist the Delaware State community however we can as it deals with the impact of this episode, and hope there will be a swift, just resolution.”

47ABC reached out to both the head coach and players on the team.

Midfielder, Gwenna Gentle tells us, “It was very astonishing for us to even have to sit through and hear that they’re assuming that we are trafficking drugs back and forth.”

Gentle says the encounter made her and other teammates uncomfortable and she’s thankful video cameras were there to capture a moment she says happens far too often.

“It’s an on going thing and it’s unfortunately not surprising of the situation that occurred so I think technology really helped us out in the end,” said Gentle. “We can’t just keep letting it happen. You see it every other week and even though a lot of things aren’t recorded, or photographed we have to know things are happening on the daily so it’s just a matter of taking things into action and solving any kind of discrimination, racism, things like that.”

Article updated at 10:20 p.m.

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