Stop and Frisk

For decades, Black and brown men have been faced with a harsh reality: somewhere in life, they'll probably be stopped and searched, embarrassed and humiliated, most times for no reason at all. In our communities, this is a known fact. But now we have statistics to prove it. In recent months, New York's infamous "stop and frisk" law (which began in the 1990s under then-mayor Rudolph Guiliani) has ignited serious controversy, from protests and rallies to talks of "cop watch" groups and a federal class action lawsuit (which means that hundreds of thousands of stop-and-frisk victims could potentially join a case that was filed in 2008 on behalf of four Black men). Reports show that the practice targets Black and Hispanic males, with nearly 87 percent of last year's stops involving these two groups. And according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the number of Black men (ages 14–24) stopped in 2011 exceeded the city's entire population of Black men in that age group. Other cities like Philadelphia have adopted this controversial policy and stirred more questions about its effectiveness. New York City officials claim that it has played a significant role in reducing crime in the Big Apple, while others believe that the stop-and-frisk policy does nothing more than promote legal discrimination and racial profiling. In 2013, U.S. District Judge Shira Sheindlin ruled the procedure unconstitutional and called for its overhaul.