New York City’s police department is targeting Black and Latino residents — subjecting our communities to thousands of illegal stops, searches, and frisks each day that lead to unlawful arrests, constant harassment, and in some cases serious injury or death.1,2
Last year, NYPD officers made an astounding 700,000 stops3 — 89 percent of whom were Black or Latino and most were stopped without any suspicion of wrongdoing.4 For many young Black men, getting stopped and questioned by police has become part of daily life.5
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defend the city’s Stop and Frisk program, claiming it’s necessary and must be focused in Black communities in order to save lives.6 In reality, Stop and Frisk is harmful to public safety and erodes community trust in the police — undermining safe, effective, and professional police practices.7
Recently, tens of thousands took to the streets of New York City demanding that the Mayor and Commissioner end Stop and Frisk and hold the NYPD to a higher standard of policing that does not include harassment, abuse, and racially-biased tactics.8,9 Please join us in calling on Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to end New York’s Stop and Frisk program, it takes just a moment:
A recent report on New York City’s Stop and Frisk program provides damning proof of what Black New Yorkers have always known – that the NYPD subjects thousands of us to deeply offensive, humiliating treatment, based largely on the color of our skin.10 Many of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers stopped in 2011 were belittled, subjected to degrading full-body searches, and forced to hand over all their personal belongings to police — some were even thrown to the ground or had guns drawn on them while walking in their own neighborhoods.11 These actions of the NYPD have created two New Yorks — where New Yorkers are treated differently on the basis of race, income, ethnicity, and where they live.
Lower-income Black folks living in public housing developments are routinely made to feel under siege in their own homes. Police commonly charge residents and their guests with trespassing if they are not carrying identification.12 In the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a high concentration of public housing units, the stop rate was 572 per 1000 residents last year.13
For victims of Stop and Frisk, these constant police stops are not a minor inconvenience, but they reflect a blatant disregard for civil liberties that leaves whole communities feeling scarred and violated. Stops regularly escalate to police harassment — and brutality — within minutes.14 In the case of Jateik Reed, police viciously clubbed and kicked the Bronx teen in front of his home because he complained about being frisked,15 and none of the officers involved have been held accountable.
Stop and Frisk myth
Supporters of the repressive policing program point to the decline in violent crime as proof that Stop and Frisk is protecting the Black community, but this is not true. Weapons were only recovered in 1.9 percent of the stops made last year.16 And the increase in stop and frisks came well after a steady decline in the number of murders, both in NYC and throughout the country.17
Thanks in large part to a diverse coalition of New York City activists, researchers, and lawyers called Communities United for Police Reform, the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk program has recently made national headlines. In February, a federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York on behalf of four Black men who said they were racially profiled by the NYPD. The lawsuit asserts that the program is unconstitutional and should end.18 And this past Father’s Day, thousands marched in silence from lower Harlem down Fifth Avenue to Bloomberg’s townhouse, demanding an end to the practice.19
By calling for an end to Stop and Frisk in New York, we can shape the way police treat Black people throughout the nation, since many police departments copy and study the practices of the NYPD — the nation’s largest police department.20,21 Together, we can keep the national spotlight on the issue and continue to pressure Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly to do what’s right. It’s time to make sure New York City’s residents can enjoy a shared experience of freedom, regardless of the neighborhood they live in or the color of their skin. Please join us in calling for an end to New York City’s Stop and Frisk program and when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
— Rashad, Gabriel, Dani, Matt, Arisha, Kira, Kim, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
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1. “Judge approves class action lawsuit over NYPD’s stop and frisk searches,” The Raw Story, 05-16-12
2. “After Detective’s Firing, Tensions Linger in Bell case,” The New York Times, 03-25-12
3. “Stop And Frisk, 2011 Report,” NYCLU
4. See reference 3.
5. “New NYCLU Report Finds NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices Ineffective, Reveals Depth of Racial Disparities,” The New York Civil Liberties Union, 05-09-12
6. “Stop and Frisk Policy ‘Saves Lives,’ Mayor Tells Black Congregation,” The New York Times, 06-10-12
7. “Beyond Stop-and-Frisk,” The New York Times, 04-19-12
8. “Protesters march in silence through upper Manhattan to protest NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program,” New York Daily News, 06-17-12
9. See reference 8.
10. See reference 5.
11. See reference 3.
12. “NYPD Sued Over Housing Project “Vertical Patrols,”” The Huffington Post, 07-15-10
13. See reference 3.
14. “Anger in the Bronx at police,” Socialistworker.org, 02-14-12
15. See reference 14.
16. See reference 3.
17. “Visualizing Stop-and-Frisk and Murder rates in New York City,” Forbes, 03-23-12
18. “Judge Grants Class-Action Status in Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit,” New York Times, 05-16-12
19. See reference 8.
20. “Stop-and-Frisk Issues Taken to DC,” The Epoch Times, 06-08-12
21. “How New York Beat Crime,” University of California Berkley School of Law, 07-28-11