RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Shaw University President Dr. Paulette Dillard said she is “outraged” by the way some of her students were treated by law enforcement officers last week.
In a news release, the university said 18 Shaw University students and two staff advisors were traveling on Oct. 5 from Raleigh to Atlanta for a Center for Financial Advancement Conference.
The group was traveling by contract bus on a South Carolina highway when they were pulled over by “South Carolina Law Enforcement” in Spartanburg County. The Shaw University statement did not include the name of the highway, such as Interstate 85.
The university said the bus was pulled over under the “pretext of a minor traffic violation”. Further, the statement said sheriff deputies and drug-sniffing dogs searched the suitcases located in luggage racks beneath the bus.
“In a word, I am outraged,” Dr. Dillard said. “This behavior of targeting Black students is unacceptable and will not be ignored nor tolerated. Had the students been white, I doubt this detention and search would have occurred.”
Dillard said nothing illegal was discovered in the search by “South Carolina Law Enforcement officers.” Shaw University said officers claimed they stopped the bus because it was swerving and issued the driver a warning ticket for “improper lane use.”
CBS 17 reached out to Shaw University who declined to speak with us about the issue. The university would not offer clarity on the South Carolina law enforcement agency they are referencing in their claims.
A spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, which includes the State Highway Patrol, said it was not involved in the stop.
CBS 17 spoke to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, a spokesperson said without more information about the driver who received the ticket he cannot say if the stop or search took place.
CBS 17 did learn agencies were conducting an enforcement effort in Spartanburg County that week called Operation Rolling Thunder. Eleven agencies, including the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office were involved, according to a spokesperson for the department.
The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said there were 67 improper lane change citations that day, 11 of them were for commercial vehicles, but it does not know if any of them were the bus with Shaw students.
Dillard said the students made it to the conference safely.