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The NAACP Silent March and Why Stop and Frisk Must End

June 17th, 2012 · No Brilliant Opinions · Random Things That Make Me Smile

I consider myself a good citizen as well as a bonafide party girl.  But some situations in NYC  will cause me to set my wine glass down and roll up my sleeves for a cause or an issue.

According to the NY Times, last year in NYC  over 700,000 people were stopped by the police.  87% of those stopped were black and Latino. The vast majority were males.  Over half were frisked. The number of stop and frisks for black males 14-24 was greater than their population in NYC.   In addition, over 80% are never arrested or charged with a crime.   Mayor Bloomberg, touting “public safety,” has continued to support this policy which equates skin color with reasonable cause.  I’ll let the lawyers amongst you argue the legality of this policy.

After seeing this short film about a 17 year old black boy who has been stopped by police over sixty times, I decided to put my sneakers on and join the NAACP Silent March Against Stop and Frisk.  The march, held today on Father’s Day , was large and orderly and proceeded from 110th Street and 5th Avenue to 78th Street.  I believe Mayor Bloomberg resides near the endpoint of the march.

As we walked down Museum Mile, tourists seemed awe-struck, as if they has awakened in the middle of  an American post-racial nightmare.  I kept my eye on the police, hoping that they would not get annoyed and start busting heads.  (I left my kids home because of concerns about safety.)  I wondered how they felt doing this “stop and frisk”  and literally earning a living by victimizing boys and men of color.

In a city known for being loud and boisterous, it was a powerful message to walk down 5th Avenue in silence. There were no drums and no chanting.  The crowd was large, peaceful, multicultural and multigenerational.  I expected to be in a sea of black people but was enveloped by multiracial labor groups, families with young children and members of the LGBT community.  I ended up walking with a labor group composed of UAW members and the NYS Nurses Association.  A few signs carried by marchers caught my eye.  One said, “Dissent is patriotic.”  Another, “Stop the humiliation of children.”

As a mother, I tried to explain stop and frisk to my children today and found myself looking down at my feet, stumbling over my words, getting teary and finally just plain angry.  I’m not anti-police but surely this stop and frisk policy, by humiliating children and communities of color,  will  perpetuate hostile feelings toward law enforcement.  And that Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t make me feel safe at all.


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