Changes in stop-and-frisk policies may signal improvement in race relations

By TARA GUPTA ’16

Staff Writer

The cops just can’t keep their hands out of black and brown mens’ pants. While much of the nation worries about the NSA finding out about their late-night Google searches, black and Latino men live with the understanding that they can walk out of their home and have someone reach into their pants and grab their genitals. Such is the story of 16-year-old Darrin Manning from Philadelphia, a high school basketball player with no criminal record and straight A’s. While playing basketball after school with friends last month, Manning was stopped and frisked. After being handcuffed, a cop reached down his pants and squeezed his testicles, causing formation of a blood clot. There was no evidence of any contraband or paraphernalia on Manning. This is one of countless examples of cops taking advantage of the hateful stop-and-frisk policies. Many people realize the program is a violation of constitutional rights, but the more urgent issue is that the program institutionalizes racial profiling.

New York City’s last mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was an ardent supporter of the program, and some even call stop-and-frisk the hallmark of his time in office. In June 2013, the ex-mayor said, “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” despite statistics proving otherwise.

The city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, campaigned against the issue, promising to end the aggressive program if elected. “You can’t break the law to enforce the law,” de Blasio told talk show host Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

New York’s stop-and-frisk program has discriminated against black and Latino men since its inception in 1990. The program allows New York Police Department officers to stop and frisk pedestrians to determine if they have weapons or contraband. Cops don’t need an actual warrant to stop and frisk; they can stop someone if he or she has made a “furtive” movement.

Proponents of the program claim that it reduces crime in the city, although statistics do not indicate any impact on crime rates. According to the Washington Post, black and Latino men are disproportionately stopped and frisked. Blacks and Latinos make up half of New York City’s population, but were stopped 87 percent of the time in 2013. Cops find no evidence of any offense in nine out of 10 people they stop. Only two percent of blacks and Latinos frisked have contraband, in comparison to four percent of whites frisked.

The police officer’s violent attack on Manning is not an isolated example. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that cops use threats and/or physical force against 50 percent of people they stop. A quarter of people stopped reported that cops displayed weapons when they stopped them, and over two-thirds of people stopped were never informed of the reason for being stopped.

The new mayor has begun the appeals process of the law, and is working with the police department to remodel the ways the police interact with young males. De Blasio’s actions create hope for black and Latino men, but let’s take a closer look at just what the impacts will be:

Things that black and Latino men will now be able to do:

Get a coffee from across the street without having their human rights violated.

Things that black and Latino men still cannot do:

Keep their genitalia from being squeezed

Walk down the street safely with Skittles in hand

Have their neighborhoods cared for and accounted for

Send their children to nurturing, well-funded schools

Get fair employment opportunities

Get “Blind Side”-ed by suburban moms

Have fair trials

Have teachers tell them apart from the one other black kid in class

Get a coffee from across the street without having their human rights violated.

Ultimately, institutional racism affects men of color regardless of stop-and-frisk’s potency, but, for now, we can look up to de Blasio as a game changer in race relations and police-civilian relations.

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