Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NYC Protesters March Against Stop-And-Frisk

"There's no real correlation between who the police stop and who's a criminal... And the police should respond to crime, not suggestions and hunches of criminality driven by race," states attorney Gail Grey in the video above. Grey was among tens of thousands who took part in Sunday's silent march in New York City against the Police Department's "stop and frisk" program. The program's inequities include racial profiling that disproportionately targets blacks and Hispanics, the lack of a clear connection to the decline in crime in the city, the innocence of almost 90 percent of those stopped, the insignificant number of arrests resulting from the stops, and the quota-driven nature of the program. The New York Times provided statistics on the program in an editorial, "Reform Stop-and-Frisk":

The stop-and-frisk program dates to the 1990s, when the police department adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to policing and began bearing down on minor crime as a way of preventing more serious crimes. Despite the city’s claims, there is no proof that this approach, by itself, reduced crime in New York because crime has fallen in many cities that do not follow New York’s lead.

Over time, the program has grown to alarming proportions. There were fewer than 100,000 stops in 2002, but the police department carried out nearly 700,000 in 2011 and appears to be on track to exceed that number this year. About 85 percent of those stops involved blacks and Hispanics, who make up only about half the city’s population. Judge Scheindlin [of Federal District Court] said the evidence showed that the unlawful stops resulted from “the department’s policy of establishing performance standards and demanding increased levels of stops and frisks.”

She noted that the police officers had conducted tens of thousands of clearly unlawful stops in every precinct of the city, and that in nearly 36 percent of stops in 2009, officers had failed to list an acceptable “suspected crime.” The police are required to have a reasonable suspicion to make a stop. Only 5.37 percent of all stops between 2004 and 2009, the period of data considered by the court, resulted in arrests, an indication that a vast majority of people stopped did nothing wrong. Judge Scheindlin rebuked the city for a “deeply troubling apathy toward New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.” The message of this devastating ruling is clear: The city must reform its abusive stop-and-frisk policy.

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