When I was nineteen, I was walking out of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn on a sunny summer afternoon. Two policemen, with nothing to do, saw me, approached, and slammed me up against a wall of a building. Immediately I was terrified, confused, and it didn’t take long before I was crying (I’m not afraid to admit it. Plus, I’m nearly forty-years-old, my days of frontin’ are long gone).
“What did I do?!?” I begged. Surprisingly, one officer gave me a clear and professional answer. I believe he said, “Shut the fuck up, bug”, then he rubbed my balls.
I’m not sure if Stop and Frisk was an official NYPD policy then. Perhaps these cops were just searching me because they were industrious. Maybe they were trailblazers. When Bill de Blasio ran for mayor last November, he promised to end Stop and Frisk, a policy that has overwhelmingly targeted more black and Latino “suspects” than any other ethnic group, and last month, he did or at least tried to. Mayor de Blasio asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to withdraw Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appeal of the verdict that ruled Stop and Frisk illegal and unconstitutional. Now comes word that the NYPD union wants to keep the appeal going and likely will do so, independent of what the de Blasio administration wants. The policy works for the NYPD. It always has and they’ll be damned if it’s taken without a fight.
I’m not saying cops are racist, but fighting for an inherently racist policy is more than unfortunate and tone-deaf, it’s hurtful, malicious, and in the end – if successful – will only serve to terrorize and victimize generations of people of color. What exactly would you call that?
And what of the trailblazers who stopped and frisked me when I was nineteen? They found nothing. As the NYPD has found nothing a whopping 89% of the time in stop and frisk incidents.
Check out the Stop and Frisk stats here.
MetroCard art by Jeff Gipe Photo by Marina Galperina