As Dexter Porter, a 16 year-old African-American, was on his way to the park one afternoon he was stopped by the police and searched because he looked “suspicious” and fit a description of someone they were looking for, though they never told him the description. “They said ‘Hey, where are you going, come here’ and then they put me against a wall and started to pat me down”, he recalls. He continues, “I hate it and its bad, like its invading privacy and how would cops feel if we stopped and frisked them?”
The practice in the city known as Stop-and-Frisk, which is practiced by the NYPD when they suspect a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime then proceed to question and possibly search them. “We have to follow what we have to do”, said a Lehman College officer, who did not share his name since he is not allowed to, that believes that the policy is very effective.
“It’s not fair”, says 18 year-old Bianca Mitchell. Her friend, 17 year-old Fatu Jabbi added, “It’s degrading and it targets a majority of African-American men who look a certain way.”
The infamous procedure was introduced in the city in the late 1990s to the early 2000s and according to NYPD statistics from 2002 through 2012, only an average of one in eight people stopped were accused of a crime with a vast majority being African-Americans or Latinos. Many believe the officers who follow the stop-and-frisk policy overuse the practice and create hostility in the public.
A 24 year-old college student of West Indian descent, Nakecia Williams, admitted her frustration towards the practice. “A lot of times its just racial profiling,” she continued, “many were frisked by what they were wearing and if they had the characteristics of a criminal.” Some characteristics of the common “criminal” were the kind of attire they had on which were usually baggy clothing like hoodies. “I’ve never been stopped and frisked but I actually went to a rally about it in Harlem two years ago,” she finished.
In 2011, the NYPD stopped teenagers more than 140,000 times. The New York City Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a federal class action against the program. On the civil rights organization’s website it stated, “An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002,and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”
“It’s just wrong,” says Dea Allen, a 39 year-old woman who has done a paper on the stop-and-frisk policy herself. “People believe men of color just comply with the description of a criminal and its not right,” she continues, “know your rights, your amendments; they just need to leave my people alone!”