Harlem Globetrotters Arrest 1983
By an edhat reader
Having lived in Santa Barbara for almost 53 years it occurs to me that many younger people and newcomers may never have heard of an infamous incident that occurred in December 1983 when three members of the Harlem Globetrotters who were out doing Christmas shopping on State Street were arrested by a bevy of armed police officers and made to lie face down on the sidewalk while handcuffed.
They were getting ready to leave in a taxi but suddenly were surrounded by a large number of police who were apparently looking for some other black men who had an hour before robbed a jewelry store. The fact that the three Harlem Globetrotters bore absolutely no resemblance to the descriptions of the actual crooks apparently did not matter. The three players later filed a lawsuit against the city.
3 Globetrotters Arrested in Error
Three members of the Harlem Globetrotters were apprehended Tuesday night by the police, who mistakenly thought they had robbed a jewelry store.
Jimmy Blacklock, Ovie Dotson and Louis Dunbar were in Santa Barbara, a coastal city north of Los Angeles, for a game Tuesday night and were visiting a downtown jewelry shop about a half-hour after another jewelry store in nearby Montecito had been by three black men.
The players were waiting for a taxi when officers in a patrol car spotted them and thought they fit the descriptions of the Montecito robbers, who the police said were wearing athletic warmup suits.
When the players got into their cab, the police followed, pulled the cab over and ordered the three players out and onto the ground at gunpoint. They were then handcuffed and put in the patrol car.
The owner of the robbed jewelry store was called to identify the suspects, but said they were not the same men and they were released.
KEYT News Clip of Arrest
Globetrotters on Phil Donahue 1983