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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Civil rights advocates seek to sway young voters to vote for mayoral candidates who oppose stop-and-frisk

The NYCLU and other advocacy groups are registering young voters in neighborhoods with high rates of police street interrogations.

The stop-and-frisk movement is banking on Brooklyn and the Bronx to sway the race for mayor to the left.

Armed with voter-registration forms, civil rights advocates [including Make the Road New York] are visiting neighborhoods with high counts of police street interrogations, reasoning that young people will help elect a candidate who will revamp the controversial NYPD practice.

“We want a mayor who is going to pursue criminal justice policies that are not just about solving crimes or stopping crimes,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.

NYCLU is part of Communities United for Police Reform, a patchwork of about a dozen nonprofits leading the sign-up-to-vote drive across the city.

Volunteers poured into 13 neighborhoods across the city since they kicked off their campaign last week.

About 1,000 new voters have already been signed up.

“Stop-and-frisk is a critical issue in the mayoral election,” Lieberman said.

Kings County led the city in NYPD street stops in 2011, police data showed. And a NYCLU analysis said the central Bronx — where cops patted people down 80% of the time — had the highest frisk rate in 2011.

Meanwhile, 14- to 24-year-olds were involved in 49% of police stops citywide that year.

Despite the daily complaints of police harrassment from teens and twenty-somethings, political experts said the young rarely vote — even during an election cycle in which the issues that affect them could be the focus.

There is much room for improvement in the participation rate among young voters. According to an estimate by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, only 4% of eligible voters under the age of 30 cast a ballot in 2009 when Mayor Bloomberg snagged his third term.

“There is no question that young people vote less frequently than older voters,” said NYCCFB spokesman Matt Sollars.

The only mayoral hopeful to call for an end to the controversial NYPD practive has been City Controller John Liu. During a candidates debate Thursday at a Harlem church, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called it a “broken policy.”

Others have been less critical, but have called for reforms ranging from increased city oversight to upping the number of veteran cops in areas where stops have been most common.

“The issue of stop-and-frisk is immensely complicated, but the politics of it are very straightforward,” said Michael Tobman, a city-based campaign consultant.

Because of the number of candidates vying to run City Hall, relatively few votes could influence the outcome of the Democratic primary, which is only four months away, Tobman said.

Still, the challenge will be convincing black and Latino men under the age of 30, from the city’s stop-and-frisk hotzones, to vote in the next election.

“The youth don’t care about politics. They are just looking about how to get their next dollar,” said Antonio Avera, 24, a fashion designer from Brownsville.

“The only people who care are our grandmothers.”

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