RALEIGH, N.C. (WSPA) – Five North Carolina members of Congress are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate a police search of a Shaw University bus during Operation Rolling Thunder in Spartanburg County.

Operation Rolling Thunder is a weeklong effort to remove drugs and other items off Spartanburg County highways.

On Oct. 5, deputies pulled over a bus that had 18 students and staff members on board.

Five North Carolina members of Congress sent a letter asking the Justice Department to conduct a thorough review of the search.

The letter said the bus was pulled over for a minor traffic violation along I-85 in Spartanburg County.

The letter also said, “At this point, multiple deputies and drug-sniffing dogs searched the belongings of the students and staff in the vehicle. No illicit materials were found, and the students were left unnerved, confused, and humiliated. We are deeply troubled by this unfounded search of Shaw students.” 

In response, Shaw University President Paulette Dillard released a statement that said, “In a word, I am ‘outraged.’ This behavior of targeting Black students is unacceptable and will not be ignored nor tolerated,” Dillard said. “Had the students been White, I doubt this detention and search would have occurred.”

The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Wright spoke by phone with President Dillard three times this week and offered her an opportunity to come to review the footage.

The first two times President Dillard said she had a conflict with the suggested time and date.

A meeting was planned to take place Friday afternoon, but the sheriff’s office said President Dillard backed out of the meeting.

A meeting is now planned for Monday morning at 10 a.m.