I am absolutely gobsmacked by the press release I just received from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) about "the fourth quarter data for 2009 on stop-and-frisks just released by the New York City Police Department." CCR has found that not only were a record number of 575,304 people stopped and frisked by police, but that 87% of them were either Black or Latin@.
Said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, "2009 was the worst year for stop-and-frisks on record. For many kids, getting stopped by the police while walking home from school has become a normal afterschool activity, and that's tragic. The public is demanding constructive change and an end to racially-biased policing by the NYPD."Look, I'm no cop-hater; my grandfather was a cop. In fact, he was a detective with the NYPD. But I do hate that cops are being given free rein to police in a way that is not only evident harassment but rife with the potential for the physical abuse of so-called suspects.
The City often claims the racial disparity in stops is accounted for by the racial breakdown of crime suspects, but the data from the first three quarters of 2009 (fourth quarter detail unavailable at this time) reveal that "fits relevant description" is the reason for a stop only 15 percent of the time. Far and away the most often cited reason for a stop by the police is the vague and undefined, "furtive movements" (nearly 50 percent of all stops), and "casing a victim or location" (nearly 30 percent of all stops). Also listed are "inappropriate attire for season," "wearing clothes commonly used in a crime," and "suspicious bulge," among other boxes an officer can check off on the form.
Only 1.3 percent of the year's stops resulted in the discovery of a weapon, and only 6% of the stops resulted in arrests.
Said CCR Attorney Darius Charney, "This kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust, doubt and fear of police officers in communities of color and only serves to make the police's job more difficult."
If a cop is a white supremacist, and all that's required to cover hir ass is a bullshit justification like "furtive movements," what's to stop hir from using the stop-and-frisk to secure opportunity to act out hir violent bigotry?
If a cop is a sexual predator, and all that's required to cover hir ass is a bullshit justification like "furtive movements," what's to stop hir from using the stop-and-frisk as part of hir predation?
That the obvious answer to these questions is "nothing" underlines how utterly fucked-up this situation really is.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Blacks and Latin@s, who comprised 87% of the NYPD's stop-and-frisks last year, are respectively 25% and 28% of New York City's total population.