SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) - San Jose police targeted minorities in arresting 10,000 people for public drunkenness, though they were not drunk and were not given sobriety tests, according to a federal class action. The class claims San Jose police refuse to rein in "officers whose vicious propensities are notorious," in an "ongoing and continuing" campaign of racial profiling against minorities, particularly Latinos.
Two Watsonville men claim police officers surrounded them outside a 7-Eleven in San Jose, asked if they had been drinking alcohol and demanded identification. Plaintiffs Francisco Valdez and Ricardo Vasquez said they had not, then one officer put Valdez in a police car and another officer "hog-tied" Vasquez with plastic zip-ties, frisked him, put him in a paddy wagon and said they did not want "his kind" in San Jose.
The officers never told the men the reason for their arrest or gave them a sobriety test, according to the complaint. The men say they learned they were charged with public drunkenness when police released them from jail 12 hours later.
The plaintiffs say minorities, many of them Latinos, made up about half the false arrests as part of an "ongoing and continuing" policy of racial profiling in the Bay Area's largest city.
They want statutory and punitive damages and other relief. The class is represented by Andrew Stearns with Bustamante, Ohara & Gagliasso.