Taking a page from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, activists who want to stop the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policies are taking to the streets to protest what they say is a discriminatory program.
On Friday at 1:30 p.m., The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, led by revolutionary communist Carl Dix and author and activist Cornel West, plan to host a rally outside of a Harlem police precinct to protest against stop and frisk policies that they claim unfairly target Blacks and Latinos.
The policies, which have been documented since 1998, have been described as one of the most controversial police procedures. Without any sort of warrant, the policies allow police to stop or confront a “suspicious” person in an effort to prevent crime from taking place. In the search police will question and frisk (or pat down) the individual for weapons.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defends the program. At a recent press conference he said that "[The policies are] one of the techniques [police] use to bring down crime. We go to every effort possible to make sure we comply with all the laws."
Many, however, disagree that the stop and search is the best way to combat crime, and on Friday, the demonstration against the laws was organized to serve as a lead-in to Oct. 22’s National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality.
“The New York Police Department is on pace to stop and frisk over 700,000 people in 2011! That’s more than 1,900 people each day,” the organization’s website reads. “More than 85 percent of those stopped are Black or Latino, many are as young as 11 or 12, and more than 90 percent of them were doing nothing wrong when the police stopped, humiliated, brutalized them or worse.”
The American Civil Liberties Union records indicate that more than 360,000 people were stopped and frisked by officers during the first six months of this year, and 88 percent were totally innocent, 51 percent were Black and 33 percent were Latino.
“An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that about 3 million innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations from 2004 through 2010, and that Black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics,” reads the American Civil Liberties Union of New York website.
The network says that New York’s stop and frisk policies are “racist, unconstitutional and intolerable.” They are encouraging all who plan to participate in the rally to wear black as a sign of solidarity.
“This Friday, people are putting themselves on the line to stop [this policy]. This is the beginning; this is serious; we won’t stop until stop and frisk is ended,” they say.
Earlier this week, the controversial policy caught the attention of many when a New York officer was charged with writing a false police report claiming that an African-American man resisted arrest by shoving and kicking the officer.
Last month, a federal judge in New York ruled that a class action suit against the NYPD based on the racial discrimination would go to trial.
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)