Taking to the streets against stop-and-frisk

Gary Lapon reports from a huge protest march against the NYPD’s racial profiling – Published on Socialist Worker, by Gary Lapon, June 19, 2012.

NEW YORKERS came out in the thousands for the “End Stop-and-Frisk Silent March Against Racial Profiling” on June 18. A multiracial procession of about 15,000 people stretched for nearly 25 blocks down New York City’s Fifth Avenue.  

Spearheaded by the NAACP and National Action Network, and endorsed by dozens of labor unions, activist groups, civil rights organizations, cultural groups, and community and religious organizations, the march brought together a diverse group united in its opposition to the racist policies and practices of the New York Police Department … //

… STOP-AND-FRISK is the NYPD policy under which police annually stop and search hundreds of thousands of mostly Black and Latino youth, the overwhelming majority of them innocent of any crime. The policy has effectively criminalized a generation of New Yorkers of color.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, in 2011, the NYPD stopped and frisked New Yorkers 685,724 times. Of these, 88 percent of those detained were released without any action by the cops. A total of 87 percent–or seven out of every eight people stopped–were Black or Latino. Blacks and Latinos make up just over half of the population of New York City.

With over 200,000 stop-and-frisks in the first three months of 2012, according to the police’s own statistics, the NYPD is on pace to surpass 800,000 this year, an increase of more than 16 percent last year, and more than eight times the number of stops in 2002.

Young Black men are especially targeted by stop-and-frisk policies. A recent NYCLU report found that “the number of stops of young Black men exceeded the entire city population of young Black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406).”

Stop-and-frisks hardly ever turn up evidence of a crime or a real danger to the community. The NYPD found just one gun for every 3,000 stops in 2011. Despite the fact that stop-and-frisks overwhelmingly target people of color, Blacks and Latinos who are searched are less than half as likely as whites to be found with a weapon.

Thousands of the arrests that do take place during stop-and-frisks are for possession of marijuana, which is only supposed to be an arrestable offense when it is in “public view”–and that only happens as a result of the officers’ often illegal searches, say victims of the policy.

As NAACP President Benjamin Jealous told Democracy Now! earlier this month, “This is really the biggest, most aggressive racial profiling problem that we have in this country, and it just has to be stopped.”

Beyond profiling, humiliating and terrorizing Blacks and Latinos, stop-and-frisks often lead to police misconduct and brutality–from NYPD Officer Michael Daragjati’s boast that he “fried another nigger” after allegedly lying about a stop-and-frisk on a police report, to the beating of 19-year-old Jateik Reed and the murder of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham by the NYPD earlier this year … (full long text).

Links:

  • Frisking on en.wikipedia: Frisking (also called a patdown or pat down) is a search of a person’s outer clothing wherein a person runs his or her hands along the outer garments to detect any concealed weapons or contraband …
  • Stop and frisk: In the United States, a law enforcement officer may briefly detain a person upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime but short of probable cause to arrest; such a detention is known as a Terry stop.[1] When a search for weapons is also authorized, the procedure is known as a stop and frisk

Only one cheer for the draft Energy Bill, on Left Foot Forward, by Will Straw, June 19, 2012.

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