As Good Friday observations go, it was an unusual but poignant gathering.
A group of ministers and faith leaders outside of a courthouse in Manhattan conducted a prayer for an end to stop and frisk.
“It is important for us to be here on Good Friday,” said the Rev. Sam Cruz, the senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn and a professor at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, in an interview with BET.com.
“The judicial system played a role in the execution of Jesus, and he advocated for justice in society,” Cruz said. “Many clergy emphasize the importance of justice and they see this stop and frisk as institutionally condoned profiling against young African-American and Latino youth.”
Cruz continued: “We can’t prove that police officers are racist in terms of what is in their heads. But the data makes it clear. And we want to focus on ending a system that is brutalizing so many Black and Latino young men.”
The prayer event occurred at the same time that a federal judge is hearing testimony in a trial that will determine whether the police department is acting unconstitutionally in the stop-and-frisk program. Under that initiative, millions of African-American and Latino young men have been detained and searched by police officers.
At the heart of stop and frisk is the practice of stopping and searching people whom the police consider to be suspicious. In 2011, that led to nearly 700,000 people being stopped by police. The practice has been criticized because the vast majority of those detained are Black and Latino and that in more than 85 percent of the cases, the stops result in no discovery of wrongdoing.
However the administration of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has strongly defended the practice, saying that the initiative helps to reduce crime throughout America’s largest city.
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(Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)