Women’s lacrosse team speaks out following traffic stop they believe was racially motivated

DOVER, Del. -“I don’t think that this would have happened if we weren’t African Americans and I think it’s sad that we have to think this way… but that’s what it was,” explained Delaware State University Freshman Lacrosse Player, Jahnai Elder.

Was a minor traffic stop by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia done by the book or was it racially motivated?

That’s the question Elder and several other players on DSU’s women’s lacrosse team are left asking.

New body camera footage released Tuesday shows police perspective of the incident last month. Officers are seen boarding the bus and K9s sniffing through athletes’ belongings.
Footage from a player’s cellphone reveals another perspective.

“It was obvious that a bus full of college athletes, we all had the same outfits we all have the same travel suit,” said Elder. “So what reason would they have to search us?”

Actions that Elder and Head Coach, Pamella Jenkins, say were accusatory and uncalled for and likely based on the color of their skin.

“It was a violation for them because they do have such high integrity and morals and all those things so to be treated to this I was just really upset,” said Coach Jenkins.

“Then for this to happen, it was just traumatic, I’ve never been searched by police, I’ve never been searched by TSA. So this was next level and they bring up dogs. We’re on the side of the road, in Southern Georgia, and then it’s a bus full of African American girls. It just doesn’t feel right,” explained Elder.

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment to us on the situation.

However, a press conference was held Tuesday afternoon to address the stop.

Sheriff William Bowman said, “The protocol that was used was the same that would be used by any other gender, race, or age. We welcome feedback from the women’s lacrosse community on ways that our law enforcement practices can be improved by still practicing the laws. I believe the stop was legal.”

Now as far as moving forward, Coach Jenkins hopes for change and the chance to recover emotionally.

“My hope is that we can deal with this now, so when it comes to next season and we have to travel, that we’re not experiencing some sort of negative emotions towards it.”

Categories: Delaware, Local News