New York, New York – October 12, 2011 – Over 1200 immigrant workers and students marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and rallied at City Hall Park today to demand an end to the ineffective, costly and discriminatory NYPD practice of Stop, Question, Frisk, as part of Make the Road New York’s annual Democracy Day. Use of the tactic has been aggressively expanded in recent years, and communities of color are suffering disrespect, humiliation and other grave consequences as a result. In 2009, nearly 600,000 New Yorkers were stopped and frisked, a 300 percent increase over a period of 6 years.
“I have been stopped, questioned and frisked about 20 times, and all that it has done is make me dislike the NYPD. I don’t believe in them to keep me safe. I feel they are quicker to lock me up than to help me, said Romale Johnson, 20 who is African American and a member of Make the Road New York (MRNY). “I feel like I am being targeted because of the way I look.” Johnson and the hundreds of other MRNY members who attended in the rally were there in support of the Campaign for Fair and Just Policing, which aims to put an end to the discriminatory implementation of SQF.
Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, called the practice racist and wasteful, pointing out that blacks and Latinos are nine times more likely to be stopped-and-frisked by the NYPD than whites, and that fewer than 3% of all stops-and-frisks have yielded weapons or contraband. “Discriminatory policing practices have a chilling effect on police-community relations, make community members less likely to report crime, and make many community members feel less safe,” she said.
While young black and Latino men make up the majority of victims of Stop, Question, Frisk practices, the practice has serious implications for the LGBTQ community as well. MRNY member Kimberly Dukenso reported being arrested and held for 48 hours by the police as part of a round-up of transgender women in Jackson Heights after a night out with friends. “They arrest us because they assume that we are all engaged in sex work. That is homophobic and makes me not want to leave my home at night. It has to stop.”
According to Archila, MRNY plans to continue to press city leaders to address this problem, and to work with Councilmember Jumaane Williams and dozens of other organizations and community leaders throughout the city engaged in the Campaign for Fair and Just Policing to put forward legislation that will put an end to biased policing. The groups plan to develop city and state legislative proposals and to elevate this issue in the 2012 and 2013 election cycles.