Two protests took place on October 21 and 22 against the New York Police Department’s racist “stop-and-frisk” policy and against police brutality.
According to a New York Civil Liberties Union study, the NYPD is on pace to stop and frisk over 700,000 people in 2011–more than 1,900 people each day. More than 85 percent of those stopped and frisked are Black or Latino, and more than 90 percent were doing nothing wrong whenpolice stopped them.
Less than 2 percent of “stop and frisk” encounters lead to the discovery of anything illegal, such as drugs and weapons, which directly refutes the bogus argument made by police officials who claim the policy reduces violent crime.
On Friday, October 21, a march and rally took place in Harlem, kicking off at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 125th Street, and then traveling to the 28th Precinct, where hundreds of protesters marched to continue to voice their opposition and called for an end to the stop-and-frisk policy.
At the precinct, community leaders engaged in acts of civil disobedience by forming a human chain around the entrance to the building, This led to the arrest of dozens of protesters, including Princeton professor and public intellectual Cornell West, protest organizer Carl Dix, community activists and several pastors from area churches.
Perhaps the most poignant moments of the protest came when some of the young men who attended recounted their experiences of being stopped and frisked.
One, who was a member of the armed services, spoke about a time when he and a friend were driving to a Chinese restaurant and were pulled over, ordered out of their car and told to do a demeaning dance if they wanted to be released. He said the humiliating experience would never leave him, and he told the crowd, “In my life, I have no arrest record, but I am going to be arrested today!”
One of the speakers compared the practice of “stop and frisk” to the treatment Blacks received in the Jim Crow South–and likened Mayor Michael Bloomberg to former segregationist Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to the infamous Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety “Bull” Conner.
Prior to being arrested, Rev. Stephen Phelps, the interim Senior Minister of the Riverside Church, led the protesters in chants of “Stop and frisk don’t stop the crime, stop and frisk is the crime.”
The following day, up to 1,000 people marched downtown against police brutality. Chants included, “The police are not the 99 percent” and “Harlem to Greece, fuck the police.” According to a report on the Gothamist website, when marchers passed the site of the many recent NYPD rape scandals, they chanted, “Hey hey, NYPD, why do rapist cops go free?”
Occupy Wall Street is helping to widen the exposure of the already growing movement against the city’s racist “stop-and-frisk” policy. New initiatives against it are being are being organized by the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow and the Urban Justice Center’s Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) who are collaborating on an upcoming community forum to challenge racist stop and frisk policies.