A coalition of organizations opposed to the New York police policy of stop and frisk is launching a campaign to register voters and provide information to citizens in the city’s African-American and Latino neighborhoods, the communities that are most affected by the controversial police initiative.
This is an election year in New York City and voters will elect a new mayor as well as vote for candidates for the 51-member city council. The coalition said they want to get more young African-American and Latino New Yorkers to register to vote.
"The most important thing is to not just engage in voters but to engage the voters who are most impacted," said Jose Lopez of Communities United for Police Reform, one of the groups in the coalition, speaking with BET.com.
"These tend to be people who are young, Black and brown and come from low income backgrounds," he added. "And these are also the people who are most impacted by stop and frisk."
In the last week, New York City’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has reiterated his strong support of the city’s stop-and-frisk program, under which hundreds of thousands of young Black and Latino New Yorkers are stopped by police officers.
The mayor, who is barred by the city’s term-limit laws from running for a fourth term, contends that it is a crucial component of the city’s effort to lower crime and that it enables police officers to effectively root out criminal activity and save lives in minority communities.
On the other hand, opponents of the practice complain that it is racial profiling where people of color — particularly young men — are subjected to humiliating treatment by police officers.
Opponents further point out that, under the Bloomberg administration, the use of stop and frisk has increased by more than 600 percent with more than 5 million stops occurring since the initiative began. Nearly nine in 10 of those stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons, and nearly 90 percent of those stopped were Black or brown.
"The most important thing we can do to change the direction of policing in New York City is to demand that our candidates for mayor explain to voters where they stand on vital criminal justice issues," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "Impacted communities must not be overlooked."
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(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)