Time to stop “Stop & Frisk”

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David Floyd didn’t appear to be a menace to society. In fact, Floyd was in the midst of helping a neighbor open their apartment door. A college student with dreams of becoming a doctor, he had come home to his apartment building to find his neighbor locked out. With spare keys, Floyd decided to be the “superman” of the day and commit a small act of kindness by opening the door for his comrade in the ranks. But within the blink of an eye, police officers stopped Floyd from opening the door and patted him down, frisking him from groin to ankle. For the umpteenth time in his life, Floyd was stopped-and-frisked.

What would make the police do this? There are two things I forgot to mention about David Floyd: he’s young and he’s black. And for most young, African American males, stop and frisk is a humiliating part of their daily lives.

S&F (Stop-and-Frisk) is a NYC policy in which a police officer who is suspicious of an individual detains the person and runs his/her hands lightly over the suspect’s outer garments to determine if the person is carrying a concealed weapon. The big question then emerges: What is reasonable suspicion?

Just ask the hundreds of non-white teenagers what reasonable suspicion is.

Ask the teenagers who, while waiting for the train in the subways or just hanging out with their friends, are humiliated without consent and have their privacy violated. Ask the hundreds of teens who are humiliated within the very confines of their own homes.

It is time for a wake-up call New York. There is no reason for any black or Latino man in his 20’s to be in constant fear that he could, at any time, be forced against a wall or shoved to the ground just because he looks “suspicious.” Especially since over 90% of these teens and men are innocent. They are not arrested or summoned in court — just made to feel ashamed about the color of their skin in the 21st century.

On the minds of most parents of African American boys are the thoughts of safety. Parents hope their boys will return home safely in one piece. Even more, they hope their child will go through their day without being stopped by the very police that their community is supposed to trust. In the land that is “my land” and “your land,” is this any way an American citizen should feel?

Other cities all across the United States, such as Dallas, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, were able to effectively drop crime rates more than 55% compared to New York’s 20% drop in crime rate without having to use S&F. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly himself said that good community policing has been replaced by “tough-sounding” S&F tactics that sowed new seeds of community distrust. It is crucial that we restore this trust between the police and the community so we can also restore the flow of information that comes with it. The tips and advice communities can provide when they trust the police will lead to decreases in crime that S&F could never achieve.

An article published by “In These Times,” revealed that a police officer was ordered by his commanding officer to specifically target young African American males. The commanding officer was recorded saying: “I have no problem telling you this…Male blacks. And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem [to] tell you this, male blacks 14 to 21.” In the cultural landscape that is New York, S&F tells us that we still live in a racially segregated society, something that was outlawed in 1954. With such blatant disregard for civil rights from police officers, the citizens of New York City have to figure out whether the targeting of some is worth the safety of all.