By the thousands, New Yorkers marched Sunday to protest the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which the march organizers criticize as targeting Black and Latino young men for what amounts to racial profiling.
The silent march, which ultimately descended outside the Upper East Side home of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, came after recent remarks by the mayor that he planned to scale back the stop-and-frisk practice by the New York City Police Department.
However, the march also came a week after Bloomberg spoke at a Black church in central Brooklyn where he largely defended the policy, saying it was an important component in reducing crime.
The march was attended by Benjamin Jealous, the president of the NAACP, as well as a number of New York City politicians. They included Bill de Blasio, the public advocate; Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker; and William C. Thompson Jr., the former city comptroller and prospective mayoral candidate.
In addition to civil rights groups and politicians, there was also strong presence by the city’s labor unions and students. Marchers carried signs that said: “Skin Color Is Not Reasonable Suspicion” and “Stop & Frisk: The New Jim Crow.”
“It was important for me to be there because I have worked as teacher and so many of our students are affected by this policy,” said Anthony Harmon, director of parent and community outreach with the United Federation of Teachers. “The march brought together people of all races and backgrounds. It exceeded my expectations.”
Under the stop-and-frisk policy, a law enforcement officer may briefly detain a person upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime but short of probable cause to make an arrest. The officer may conduct a frisking of the suspect’s outer garments to search for weapons.
According to a report by the New York Civil Liberties Union, during the 10 years of the Bloomberg administration, the police have performed 4,356,927 stops, with the number reaching 685,724 last year. Among African-American males ages 14 to 24, the number of stops last year was greater than their total population.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Seth Wenig)