Swarms of armed police invaded nine barbershops in Orange County, Florida, with as many as 14 armed agents involved. The shops had one thing in common—they catered to black or Hispanic patrons. Of course, it could be a coincidence.
The police entered without warrants. This was allowed because they accompanied agents of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who are allowed to enter any barbershop at will.
This is one example of how regulatory powers can be used to target minorities on behalf of the police, in ways that would not be legal otherwise. Thirty-seven people were arrested; the majority accused of “barbering without a license.”
Florida police claimed the raids were a general campaign singling out criminal “hot spots.” None of those arrested appear to be guilty of a real crime—one with a victim. Thirty-four of the 37 arrested were ONLY charged with the “crime” of barbering without state permission. The remaining three were charged with victimless crimes; such as owning a gun without permission, or possession of illegal substances—small amounts of marijuana in these cases.
Capt. Dave Ogden, who commands the area where these raids were conducted, justified arresting people for barbering because: “It was a misdemeanor crime being conducted in our presence. We decided to make arrests.”
Barbershops play a special role in the black community. Books have even been written about how they were seen ad community centers and places where individuals would gather to discuss the community and matters of politics. On black publication, writing about a similar raid, said police raids like this “attacked one of the Black communities most sacred institutions: the barbershop.”