BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Attorneys Benjamin Crump and Bradley Gage are accusing the city of Beverly Hills of racial profiling, hitting the city with a $500 million class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit represents 1,086 Black people out of the 1,088 they say were unjustly arrested by the Beverly Hills Police Department between Aug. 30, 2019 and Aug. 30, 2021. That number represents 34% of all arrests within Beverly Hills while African Americans only make up less than 2% of the city's residents.
Some, they claim, were caught up in the city's Rodeo Drive Task Force, designed to crack down on fraudulent purchases at the famous shopping district.
"It wasn't to deter crime. It was to send a message to Black people that we don't want your kind around here," said Crump at a news conference Monday outside the Beverly Hills Civic Center. "That is racial profiling 101!"
"In two years, 1,088 Black people arrested, only two convictions," Gage told reporters. "There's only one explanation for that. They want to drive Black people out of the city."
The city of Beverly Hills released a statement after the news conference.
"The City of Beverly Hills is an international destination that always welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world. The role of the Beverly Hills Police Department is to enforce the law, regardless of race."
"The statistics presented referencing the number of convictions is a mischaracterization of the evidence in this case. In addition, the 1,088 arrests referenced includes people cited and released, not just custodial arrests. The City denies and will continue to strongly defend itself against these allegations."
But Gage says the evidence proves the city has a problem with racism.
"Since 1995, there have been claims of racial profiling," Gage said. "Twenty-eight years and yet nothing has changed. If anything, it's become worse."