VINELAND — A former local resident claimed in a federal lawsuit that his dark skin color and Muslim name made him a victim of racial profiling when he was arrested here three years ago.
Aemer K. C. El alleged that he was not the target of an investigation when city and Cumberland County authorities raided his home in the 200 block of West Park Avenue on April 21, 2010.
El stated in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Camden that he changed his name in 2006 from Cornell Dixon and is now a Muslim-American. He charged that authorities illegally confiscated papers and documents related to his identity and faith.
El stated in the lawsuit that he is a modern-day victim of “Jim Crow” and policies that are “clearly a direct descendant of the laws enacted and majorly enforced against colored persons in the Jim Crow-era Negro laws.”
“Jim Crow is alive and well in Cumberland County,” he claimed in the lawsuit, which was filed Dec.18.
Among the 24 defendants listed in the lawsuit are the city, members of its Police Department and Municipal Court, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, members of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the state of New Jersey, the state Attorney General’s Office and Superior Court Judge Robert Becker.
One of those defendants is Gamaliel “Gami” Cruz, who at the time was a detective with the city’s Police Department here. Webb-McRae said in December 2011 that 39 cases in which Cruz was involved were dismissed in 2010 because of possible credibility problems with Cruz.
City Solicitor Richard Tonetta did not respond to a request from The Press of Atlantic City for comment on the lawsuit. Webb-McRae also declined comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit read that El currently lives in New York City. He could not be reached for comment.
El stated in the lawsuit that he was lodged in the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton for three or four weeks after his arrest on charges of possession of a stun gun, obstructing the administration of law, hindering prosecution and possession and distribution of crack cocaine. He stated in the lawsuit that a jury did not indict him on those charges, which were all subsequently dismissed.
El alleged in the lawsuit that the illegal narcotics were planted by Cruz.
He further stated that he pleaded guilty in the city’s Municipal Court in November to a disorderly persons offense after court officials threatened to put him in jail.
The plaintiff contends he suffered damages “by arrest, imprisonment, by seizure of papers and property, and deprivation of free exercise of Islam” in violation of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions.
El is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
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