Student activists spoke out against the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy in front of Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn on Wednesday, May 23, during a rally to drum up support of a major protest planned against the controversial policy.
Stop and frisk is a practice that allows officers to use their discretion to stop people they deem suspicious and search them. Opponents say stop and frisk unfairly targets minority residents.
“As a black Latino, I have been criminalized while walking to school, going to the bodega, via stop and frisk,” said Emmanuel Pardilla, a college student at Fordham University. “It is a crime. It angers me because I am the one trying to make my community a better place. Join us on the march to end stop and frisk.“
The upcoming protest, a planned 100,000-strong silent march on Father’s Day, June 17, will be led by the NAACP, the Nation Action Network, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the 1199 Service Employees International Union, among others.
Participants will march silently, dressed in their formal, Sunday’s best clothing, to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s residence in Manhattan to call for an end to stop and frisk. They charge that not only does the policy discriminates against minorities, but it is ineffective at taking guns of the streets, which is a major aim of stop and frisk.
In response, Bloomberg has defended the policy. He said critics have offered no real answer to the gun violence problem in the city.
Recently, the Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against stop and frisk that was later changed into a class-action lawsuit.
Under recent media scrutiny, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced some changes to stop and frisk. He offered to increase reporting of incidents, provide more video training to officers on how to properly use stop and frisk, and include the community in the department’s efforts.
According to data from the NYPD and reported by the New York Civil Liberties Union, Brooklyn had the most incidents of stop and frisks in 2011.
East New York’s 75th Precinct was the top precinct with 31,100 stops; the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville followed with 25,167 stops; and Williamsburg’s 90th Precinct rounded out the top 5 with 17,566 stop.
In Queens, the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights was among the top precincts in the city, with 18,156 stops. The NYPD stopped a total of 685,724 people in 2011.
But it’s the racial breakdown of those stops that has critics alarmed.
Black and Latino New Yorkers accounted for almost 90 percent of those stopped, according to NYCLU. And, says the group, young people were also disproportionately targets, with nearly half of those stopped being between the ages of 14 and 24.
At the rally, youths and students from activist groups such as New York Communities for Change, Make the Road NY and Occupy the Hood, expressed their grievances with stop and frisk.
“What if I have a baby boy? I am afraid to have a son,” said protester Crystal David of the Southeast Queens County Young Democrats. “The people that are supposed to protect us are putting us in cages. It should not be a crime to walk being black or Latino.”
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