Monday, March 5, 2012

Opposition to Stop and Frisk Organizes for 2013

Mayor Bloomberg's Apartheid approach to policing in NYC has generated increasingly organized opposition.

Scott Stringer Continues to Lead

We have highlighted in the past how impressed we have been with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's vocal opposition to the Mayor's race-based approach to policing in our city. Last week, we saw Stringer taking the lead in the organized opposition to Bloomberg's approach.
Stringer has been visiting black churches for weeks now. Everywhere he goes, he hears the same plea for change. As he spoke at Bethany about the abuses of stop-and-frisk, the building resounded with shouts of “Amen.”
The New York Daily News addressed the concerns that are causing Stringer to get the reactions he's received and highlighted the leadership role he is playing on the issue of racial discrimination in our city's approach to law enforcement.

As stated in the NY Daily News:
Last year, the NYPD recorded an astounding 684,000 stop-and-frisk encounters with the public. Even under the hard-fisted Giuliani administration, that number was less than 100,000.
But stop-and-frisk incidents have skyrocketed more than sixfold under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — and 87% of those stopped are black or Hispanic.
The Police Department defends stop-and-frisk as a valuable tool, one that helps confiscate illegal guns and save lives.
The statistics, on the other hand, show it to be at best a crude tool, one that is mangling relations between the police and the communities they serve.
Only one in every 650 stops has resulted in the confiscation of a gun, according to several years of NYPD records released to the New York Civil Liberties Union. That’s less than two-tenths of 1%.
In 88% of the cases, the people stopped were innocent. Only 6% of stops result in any kind of arrest, and many of those are for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Even middle- and upper-class New Yorkers have started to question such an unproductive policy.
All 12 community boards in Manhattan — from Battery Park and Greenwich Village to Washington Heights — have approved a resolution in recent weeks calling for reform.
The vote at Community Board 6 on the East Side was unanimous.
“Our residents are supportive of the NYPD, but we’ve concluded it (stop-and-frisk) is really not good. This needs to be resolved so people who are innocent are not being stopped.”
The racial disparities are especially glaring. Young black men, for instance, are only 7% of the city’s population, but they represented 41% of all the stops by the police in 2010.
That year, there were 27,000 stops in the 75th Precinct in East New York, Brooklyn — an average of more than 500 a week. Meanwhile, in the largely white 66th Precinct in Borough Park, Brooklyn, with a bigger population than East New York’s, there were just 53 stops a week.
“This policy has become a foot on the neck of our children,” said Shiela Rule, a former New York Times reporter who heads Think Outside the Cell Foundation, a prison reform group.
An interracial coalition of city leaders has now concluded that if Bloomberg and Kelly won’t budge, new laws will have to be passed. Led by Scott Stringer [and a Brooklyn City Council Member], they will introduce legislation Wednesday to reform stop-and-frisk.

Opposition Grows Amongst Advocacy Groups

A large coalition of advocacy groups are supporting the non-racist approach to law enforcement that Stringer is promoting.

More than 20 groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Legal Aid Society, are working together to pressure potential candidates for Mayor in 2013 to oppose the Bloomberg approach.

“We will make it impossible to run for citywide office in New York City without taking a position on stop-and-frisk,” Udi Ofer, the advocacy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, adding that the coalitionwould also inform voters about “which candidates stand which way on this issue.”     

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