The president of a historically black college said he was “outraged” that the institution’s women’s hockey team suffered a “tried and humiliated” traffic stop in Georgia, where law enforcement used minor traffic violations to search students’ belongings for drugs .

No violations were found, and coaches and members of the Delaware State team — most of whom were black — spoke openly about the experience in the days that followed, describing stop-and-searches as racially profiling and a horrific ordeal.

“We do not intend to let this or any other similar incident sit idle. We are prepared to go where any evidence leads us,” Delaware State University President Tony Allen wrote in a letter to the campus community. “We have video. We have allies. Perhaps more importantly, we have the courage of conviction.” Allen also noted that he has contacted law enforcement in Georgia and that he is exploring “recourse options — legal and others”.

It’s not always that public, but I’ve definitely experienced it, whether people think I’m an assistant coach or a bus driver.

Head coach Pamela Jenkins, talking about racial profiling.

Delaware State University, one of two historically black colleges in the country, has an NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse team. Another Howard college also made headlines last week: A Presbyterian student was suspended for racist mockery of the Howards at a University of South Carolina game in February.

The April 20 incident in Delaware was first reported last week by Sydney Anderson, a sophomore, when a representative from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office stopped him as he was traveling north on I-95. A bus that takes the convoy back to campus after a few passes. Florida game.

exist bumblebee, Anderson wrote that the incident was traumatic, especially for those who had never had contact with police before, calling it one of the “constant reminders that people are black in America.”

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Black Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman told reporters that deputies had no idea the bus was carrying students from a historically black university until they got in the bus, and the sheriff’s office was not knowledge. Realize that the incident is seen as racial profiling.

“I don’t do racial profiling, allow racial profiling or encourage racial profiling,” he said.

‘I feel helpless’

The Delaware hockey player’s bus was pulled over about two and a half hours after the team left the hotel on the morning of April 20, head coach Pamela Jenkins said in an interview chronicleA police officer walked to the door and asked the driver for a license and registration, saying commercial vehicles should not be driving in the left lane.

Jenkins said no one in the car thought much until a student noticed police pulling luggage from the Bastille to search.

Video footage captured by one of the players showed two white police officers standing at the front of the bus while the players and coaches watched. One of the officers can be heard saying: “If you have something in your luggage, we might find it. … I’m not looking for a bit of marijuana, but I’m sure if we find any company, your Partners may be disappointed.”

“I was absolutely terrified,” Jenkins said. “As a coach, especially away from campus, I am responsible for them and their safety, and at that moment, I felt helpless.” She praised the students for their level-headedness in the face of uncertain situations. “I want to stay calm and stay quiet so they can do what they need to do so we can get back to campus sooner.”

Shortly after notifying students and coaches of their search, one of the representatives returned to one of the players with a wrapped gift and asked what was inside. Jenkins said the student told the deputy she didn’t know because it was a gift from a relative and she was told not to open it until she got home. In response, the deputy said he would open the package on the bus, but she needed to get off if there was anything worth discussing. After a few minutes, the deputy came back and said they could go.

Jenkins said she had never experienced racism on this scale before. Taking responsibility for other people’s children, she said, only deepened her feelings.

Jenkins said she has experienced other racially charged incidents during her 12 to 13 years coaching the predominantly white sport.

“It’s not always that public, but I’ve definitely been through it, whether people think I’m an assistant coach or a bus driver,” she said. “You know, pass by me and shake hands with my assistant.”

Gwenna Gentle, a junior studying mass communication and a midfielder for the team, recalled being shocked when she saw the deputies conduct the search, not sure how the situation had escalated from a traffic violation to a bus Searched for drugs.

“Some of us are really personally traumatized by general officials, just dealing with law enforcement. So it’s hard to keep calm,” she said. “We don’t want it to go any further than it has to, so we’re all very calm in this situation.”

Gentle said the team initially tried to laugh it off because they didn’t know how to look at it. This quickly turned into anger because they shouldn’t have been afraid in the first place. She said the sheer amount of public support from the university, the lacrosse world and other public leaders was a source of consolation.

“As long as information and social issues get out there, that’s all I care about,” Gentle said. “We have more than 25 people on the bus – this will drive more social issues and expose them, so things like this can be prevented in the future”

During the meeting, Sheriff Bowman acknowledged that in the current environment, even traffic stops can cause panic for citizens, especially African-Americans. Deputies searched the bus after a drug-sniffing dog was “warned”, he said, adding that deputies had stopped several other commercial vehicles during the day, including one in which they found drugs .

While Bowman said he doesn’t believe any racial profiling took place, he urged players and coaches to provide feedback to the sheriff’s office on how deputies handled things.

The Delaware governor and several U.S. congressmen joined President Allen in condemning the incident. State leaders said in their statement that they would support the university to learn more about what happened.

“None of us should forget how thin the line on any given day is between habit and extraordinary, monotonous and special, safe and victimized,” Allen wrote in a letter to the university community. This is true of all people, but especially true of communities of color and the institutions that serve them.”