Silent March Speaks Out Against ‘Stop and Frisk’ in NYC
SILENT MARCH PLANNED ON FATHER’S DAY AGAINST NYPD’S ‘STOP AND FRISK’ POLICY
An NYPD officer has been charged in a Bronx teen’s death _ four months after 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was gunned down in his family’s bathroom by police who allegedly thought he had a weapon. Another incident of a young, unarmed black man fatally shot by law enforcement “authorities” (or in the case of Trayvon Martin, a volunteer neighborhood watch guard who took matters into his own hands despite being told to wait for police). Ofc. Richard Haste was arraigned in Bronx supreme court early Wednesday after turning himself in and pleading not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter charges; bail is set at $50,000. The New York Police Department and union officials insist Haste thought he was in danger because other cops reported Graham had a gun in his waistband. No weapon was ever found on the victim, who was shot Feb. 2, 2012.
“There are no winner’s here,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told reporters Wednesday at a news conference in the Bronx. He has called for a federal probe. “The parents have lost a son … the court cannot give them their child back and we are not trying to seek revenge. We’re trying to seek justice.” Ramarley Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, tearfully added: “We need this to stop. We can’t keep killing our kids.”
On Sunday, civil rights activists, labor unions, faith and community groups will unite in Harlem for a silent march against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and racial profiling. The protest begins at 3 p.m. on W. 110th Street., between Central Park West/8th Avenue and Fifth Avenue. According to the NAACP, the organization first used a silent march in 1917 to draw attention to race riots occurring throughout East St. Louis, Ill., and to build national opposition to lynching. Organizers said the planned NYC protest on Father’s Day, in contrast to previous demonstrations, will be in silence “as an illustration of both the tragedy and serious threat that stop and frisk and other forms of racial profiling present to our society.”
The New York Times reported that Haste’s indictment is the first of a New York City police officer on a charge stemming from an on-duty shooting since three detectives were charged in March 2007 in the death of Sean Bell, an unarmed man who was shot as he left a strip club just hours before his wedding. The detectives were later acquitted. In February 1999, Amadou Diallo was shot to death by police officers in the NYPD’s Street Crimes Unit.
JUST THE FACTS
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t plan to write about Ramarley Graham but quickly felt compelled to do something, if only by encouraging more awareness. While doing some research, I came across the New York Civil Liberties Union’s report on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program in 2011, which examines stops, frisks, force, race, weapons recovery, and treatment of the hundreds of thousands of innocent people stopped last year. Among findings: Black and Latino New Yorkers were more likely to be frisked than whites and, among those frisked, were less likely to be found with a weapon.
The New York Police Department maintains a computerized database of its stop-and-frisk program, NYCLU Communications Assistant Lauren Alexander noted, but data wasn’t being released or even considered public record for years. In 2007, the NYCLU successfully sued the department to make this information public, clearing the way for the NYCLU to give a more detailed picture of the stop-and-frisk program than provided by quarterly reports now released by police. Alexander explained, “we have to break it down by that data file … where people can understand and see what’s going on in their neighborhood.”
- In 2011, NYPD officers conducted 685,724 street stops, a more than 600 percent increase since Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first year in office when officers conducted 97,000 stops. More than 4 million people have been stopped under this administration.
- Young black and Latino men were the targets of a hugely disproportionate number of stops. Though they account for only 4.7 percent of the city’s population, black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011. The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406).
- The massive spike in street interrogations has done little to remove firearms from the streets, the ostensible reason behind the stop- and-frisk regime. Instead, the wholesale violation of civil rights has sown mistrust between police officers and the communities they are supposed to protect.
Earlier this month, the NYCLU announced the release of its “Stop and Frisk Watch” app _ a free smart phone application to monitor police activity and hold the NYPD accountable for unlawful stop-and-frisk encounters and other police misconduct.
Silent March to End “Stop and Frisk”: http://silentmarchnyc.org/
New York Civil Liberties Union: http://www.nyclu.org/
‘Stop and Frisk’ NYPD Activity Report (quarterly data): http://www.nyclu.org/publications/report-nypd-stop-and-frisk-activity-2011-2012
New York Civil Liberties Union ‘Stop and Frisk’ watch phone app: http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-releases-stop-and-frisk-watch-phone-app-fight-back-against-nypd-stops
Ramarley’s Call: http://ramarleyscall.org/