Stop-and-Frisk: Michael Bloomberg's And Ray Kelly's 'New Jim Crow'

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

This week, the Floyd v City of New York trial ended in much the same way it began: with the New York Police Department (NYPD) brass still lying about their racist police Stop-and-Frisk practice that is criminalizing and crippling the future of legions of African-Americans and Latinos.

The question for communities of color now is: what other tactics must we engage in, regardless of the ruling in this case, to arrest these malicious police policies targeting people for continued oppression?

On Tuesday, the federal class-action lawsuit launched by The Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four plaintiffs challenging the notorious NYPD Stop-and-Frisk practice concluded after over two months of testimony.

It is now up to the judge to render her verdict. As the trial closed, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin who is presiding over the case, reportedly grilled city lawyers on the practice that has enraged many in New York City’s Black and Latino community who see Stop-and-Frisk as nothing more than apartheid-style policing.

The NYPD preposterously claimed during the trial that they don’t engage in racial profiling. The NYPD argues that crime is higher among Blacks and Latinos—and therefore that dictates that they must focus hard on crime in those neighborhoods. In essence, the rule of law should be suspended.

This claim is often cited as a justification for the NYPD’s heavy-handed policing tactics in communities of color. NYPD statistics show Blacks and Latinos are stopped 90 percent of the time—while Whites are stopped less than 10 percent of the time. However, the same data from the NYPD shows that although they were stopped at a much more miniscule rate, Whites were found more times than Blacks and Latinos, not only with drugs—but with guns as well.

The Stop-and-Frisk regime has also been called into question because of other things like: the failure rate in those stops. NYPD data shows that between 2004 and 2012 some 4.2 million stops were conducted. But of those stops guns were found only 0.14 percent of the time showing a low so-called “hit rate.” According to Human Rights Watch, Blacks and Latino are no more likely to use, or sell, drugs than Whites—yet, Whites are arrested at much lower rates.

Moreover, a report released on Wednesday by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) concluded this about the Stop-and-Frisk policy: “With a 90-percent failure rate, the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program remains a tremendous waste of resources, sows mistrust between police and the communities of color and routinely violates fundamental rights. The city’s next mayor must make a clean break from the Bloomberg administration’s ineffective and abusive stop-and-frisk regime.”

Judge Scheindlin asked city lawyers about this 90 percent failure rate. “What troubles me is the suspicion seems to be wrong 90 percent of the time,” Scheindlin said. “What can I infer from that?” But city lawyer Heidi Grossman said the “hit rate” was inconsequential to whether or not the stops prevented a crime. “We don’t believe [the court] should be concerned about the hit rate,” Grossman said.

This is a strange statement from those who like to use dubious data to justify their prejudiced policing policy. Apparently, the statistics only matter when it justifies their twisted agenda to oppress Blacks and Latinos by criminalizing them. The time has come to launch an all-out assault on these practices. How else can we stop these bigots and racial political opportunists who use legislation and “law and order” rhetoric to push Blacks and Latinos into prisons of economic exploitation?

Regardless of the outcome of this case, the protests, legal actions and political attacks must be sustained, and escalated, against these forces that ravage our communities in this most despicable manner: using a perverted policing and justice system to arrest the development of our people. Those who write policing policy have decided our people should be the poster-children for the worst aspects of human criminality.

Are we to be condemned by the ancestors of those whose crimes against African-Americans, as Frederick Douglass so eloquently stated, “would disgrace a nation of savages?”

The truth is these folks have been fudging “facts” for decades to justify their mischievously malicious social engineering of our people to make us appear as genetically-inclined criminals from the crib. For years, the police and their apologists have justified the brutal methods of police regime in Black communities by saying statistics verify that crime is rampant in communities of color, supposedly, on a larger level than anywhere else. This has been, largely, accepted—including, unfortunately, by many Blacks. But is this notion really true, or, are statistics being manipulated to make it appear that way?

For example, if one were to just accept at face value the large numbers of Blacks being arrested by the NYPD for simple marijuana possession one may assume Blacks use marijuana at far higher rates than Whites. Yet, study after study shows Whites use more marijuana in New York City. Surely, the NYPD knows this. So, why is the NYPD primarily targeting Blacks for marijuana arrests? Recent NYPD statistics show they retrieve guns and contraband at a higher rate among Whites—even though Whites were stopped at a far reduced rate. This begs an obvious question: why isn’t the NYPD targeting more Whites for arrest—since, statistics suggest that should be the logical conclusion?

The reality is those figures that have been used to justify police prejudice against people of color have always been skewered. If a particular set of people are constantly under the criminal microscope—and are being rounded up to the near total exclusion of others—doesn’t that predetermine statistics which can then be manipulated to reflect negatively on those being singled out? The time has come to demolish the big racist lie that Blacks are somehow more criminal than anyone else. Isn’t Wall Street the most criminal place on the planet? Why isn’t the NYPD targeting these thieves who’ve stolen billions from the lifesavings and money of millions of people?

Now, no one is suggesting there isn’t crime in communities of color. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Raymond Kelly like to scare people with warnings about crime in Black neighborhoods. But why don’t these fork-tongue tricksters ever talk about the calculated, legislated poverty which is the main driving force of criminality in Black and Brown neighborhoods?

Given the economically depressed urban environments where our people are forced to live—and the high level of frustration and political alienation existing there—should we be surprised of these crime problems? And because of this economic survival anxiety— produced by lack of employment and financial opportunities—some do commit crimes far too often of a heinous nature. But crime is no less rampant in White communities—in spite of the fact that those communities have much more resources. The difference is: in Black communities, crime often unfolds within a tragic life and death struggle created by systematic economic deprivation.

The idea of Blacks and Latinos are somehow more predisposed to be criminals is a racist pseudo-science principle that has been fostered in America since the rise of Jim Crow segregation—where tactics like the Black Codes and Vagrancy Laws were instituted to criminalize African-Americans. Moreover, as lawyer Michelle Alexander, author of the book “The New Jim Crow,” stated “There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”

The NYPD is using policies like Stop-and-Frisk to criminalize, imprison and exploit our people. The time has come to stop them in their tracks. 

 

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