San Francisco has agreed to pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by seven African Americans who say they were targeted because of their race in a sting operation intended to arrest dealers selling drugs near schools.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday that the seven individuals were arrested as part of sweeps in late 2013 and early 2014 carried out by federal law enforcement and San Francisco police.
All 37 people arrested in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood as part of “Operation Safe Schools” were African American, despite the racial and ethnic diversity of drug dealers there, said the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which helped the seven defendants in their case against the city.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges against those arrested when attorneys for the alleged dealers uncovered evidence of racial targeting by police during the discovery process before trial.
Shilpi Agarwal, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said federal prosecutors are protected by immunity laws shielding them from lawsuits, so they targeted San Francisco police in the 2018 lawsuit.
San Francisco police were tasked with identifying suspects and making arrests, but John Coté, a spokesman for the San Francisco city attorney’s, told the newspaper that “the federal government led this operation, and San Francisco police officers acted in accordance with federal directives.”