Last week hundreds of protesters took to the streets in NYC and this time it wasn’t about Occupying Wall Street. Instead, these protesters were there to speak out against the city’s Stop-and-Frisk policies. Over 30 people were arrested, including some pretty notable names. Despite their anger at the program, Mayor Bloomberg stands behind the practice and credits it with driving the crime rate down in the city.
Civil rights activist and Princeton professor Cornel West was among those arrested last week in front of the 28th Police Precinct station house on Frederick Douglas Boulevard. The group started their march at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 125th Street and marched down to the precinct house. Other big names were there including Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party and James Vrettos, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
With these men, were hundreds of others, those who were victims of the stop-and-frisk campaign and those who simply disagreed with the practice, speaking out against its racist application and infringement on the rights of the people.
New York City Police executed about 600,000 stop and frisk encounters in 2010. About 85% of these stops were executed on racial minorities even though these groups make up only slightly more than half of the city’s population. In other words, the practice is being applied unfairly on minorities.
Mayor Bloomberg defends the practice, saying it is used in “communities where we have lots of guns and lots of murder victims.” He says this practice is one of many that can be credited with a 35% reduction in the crime rate over the past 10 years.
Those who have been on the receiving end of the stop-and-frisk campaign feel differently. Simply being in a neighborhood known for higher crime doesn’t give the police the right to stop and pat you down. In essence, they are treating you like a law violator without any probable cause that you have violated a law.
Carl Dix wrote about his arrest for the Huffington Post, calling the stop-and-frisk part of the New Jim Crow, alluding to the disproportionate rates at which minorities are affected and possibly even singled out by the criminal justice system. He said, “We must harbor no illusions that shattering the New Jim Crow is going to be any less of a fight…than it took to shatter the Jim Crow of my youth.”
The group is planning to converge on the 73rd police precinct in Brownsville on November 1st.
Civil disobedience, as seen here and with the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been at the cornerstone of many larger movements throughout the history of this country. But, many of these more modern movements have also been marked with countless arrests and criminal charges for the people who led them. If you’ve been arrested while exercising your right to protest, and perhaps charged with something like disorderly conduct, contact our offices today to discuss your case.