Yesterday, I commemorated Father’s Day by marching alongside my daughter and thousands of other concerned New Yorkers in a peaceful and silent demonstration against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies.
The New York Civil Liberties Union recently published a report stating for the past 10 years, the police conducted an astonishing 4,356,927 stops, which included 685,724 stops last year, 87%of which happened to be Black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24.
Both, the mayor and police commissioner staunchly defended this aggresive tactic as a neccesary tool in the effort to reduce crime and remove guns from the streets. They also credit the strategy for partially lowering crime in the city, but that is disputable since violent crime in low-income communities like East Harlem and Mott Haven have spiked 400-500% respectively since 2005.
Many have argued that other cities around the country experienced significant reductions in crime during the same 10 year span without the use of stop-and-frisk, therefore making it unnecessary here.
Our Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights protects every citizen against unreasonable searches and seizures and mandates that any warrant be sanctioned by a court, which must also be supported by probable cause.
What concerns me the most is not the humiliation experienced during this type of confrontation, I was also stopped-and-frisked just blocks from my home, but of the many who were stopped and interrogated by the police, more than half were also searched, possibly illegally. This last point calls into question the fundamental issue of probable cause as imputus to initiate searches of randomly selected persons.
Are Blacks and Latinos being unfairly subjected to multiple and often unpleasent dealings with NYPD because of skin color? Are we being taken advantaged of, due to a lack of understanding of our rights during an encounter with the police? Is there sufficient justification for the police to stop-and-frisk individuals based on a premise that most crimes are being perpetrated by people of color, therefore the raising the level of reasonable suspicion that a crime was, is or about to be committed?
The promise by the mayor and police commissioner to amend the practice of stop-and-frisk is aimed to reduce public friction and make interactions with police officers “more courteous.” This mild disguise will not shield the real issues of discriminate selection and will do very little, in my opinion, to resolve the problems associated with poverty.
Stop-and-frisk is a form of martial law, in which a paramilitary presence maintains order over civilians. Stop-and-frisk dangerously skirts our constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and uses the presumption of probable cause to stop, question, search and arrest some of our citizens for nothing other than being black or brown skinned within or outside the confines of our neighborhoods. Stop-and-frisk relies on the illegal use of racial profiling as a pretext to reduce crime and is an oppressive measure to enhance a sense of security.
Such topical solutions may produce marginal gains, but over the long run it will never serve to lower crime statistics because the root of the problem will always remain. Instead, we should be utilizing this same aggressive stop-and-frisk approach to questioning whether or not individuals have proper educations or adequate skill sets to qualify for employment, especially for Black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24.
That is why I believe stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional, illegal, unfair and should be ended, not amended.