Stop-and-Frisk

On Father’s Day thousands marched silently in New York City to protest the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy.  This police strategy allows officers to stop and frisk, as its name indicates, anyone who looks criminal or suspicious.  The idea, to stop criminals before they commit a crime, is certainly commendable.  However, the reality of this policy is that is relies on profiling.  The June 17th march protested this reality.  For example, although Blacks and Hispanics make up only 53.6% of the New York City population*, 87% of reported stops by police were for black or Hispanic people.  A minister at Riverside Church, Rev. Stephen Phelps, said “I don’t know a single black or Latino male who doesn’t say he is basically afraid to be out on the streets.”

The silent march

Among those who attended the march were all major candidates in the New York City mayoral race, Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, and the SEIU.  An unlikely partnership evolved out of distrust for the policy–the NAACP and local LGBT rights groups.  One of the main issues for LGBT people seems to be the profiling of trans women as sex workers.  After the devastation of the AIDS crisis, both the black and gay communities specifically have done much work to try to promote safer sex practices.  This includes encouraging sexually active individuals to carry condoms with them.  However, another policy of the NYPD allows officers to arrest any person carrying more than one condom under the suspicion that this person is a sex worker.

Photo Courtesy: Melissa Kleckner

On the two Sundays leading up to the march, Mayor Bloomberg visited two separate predominantly black churches, speaking on behalf of the Stop-and-Frisk policy.  At one of his visits he said, “Policy Commissioner Kelly and I both believe we can do a better job in this area…[but] to borrow a phrase from President Clinton…the practice should be mended, not ended.”  However, with a combination of public distrust with the policy and all major mayoral candidates stating their own dissatisfaction, the future of Stop-and-Frisk looks bleak.

* According to Census 2010