One of the strongest voices in NYC against stop and frisk is City Councilmember Jumaame Williams. Ironically, a few months ago, at the city’s West Indian Day Parade, he got a taste of what it feels like to be tackled, put face down on the ground, and handcuffed.
As one of the few NYC elected officials of West Indian descent, he was an honored participant in the annual parade. Along with his friend and colleague, Kirsten John Foy, who is a senior aid to elected official Bill DeBlasio, the two men were walking to a VIP luncheon following the parade. The street had been blocked off to parade-goers in order to allow access to the VIP’s traveling to the event. But these two VIP’s, in spite of showing identification, were arrested for attempting to walk down the street that had been blocked off for them.
Watch the man in the bluish/turquoise shirt. That is Foy, a senior governmental official. Yeah. Perhaps he could have been a little deferential. Everything in his body language says “WTF! I’m supposed to be here!” But he didn’t fit the aesthetic of who the police thought should be in the VIP area.
I’m Jumaame Williams’ “friend’ on facebook, (I do a lot of work with the city council, and he is one the hardest working members), so I heard about the incident early and followed it. At first the police said that he had “punched a cop.” They retracted that statement quickly, and claimed that “someone” had punched a police captain, and that they were removing the elected officials for their own safety. Look at Foy in this video. Do you think the police are acting in an effort to protect his safety? Ultimately, no one was charged with this alleged punch. Maybe it is because there weren’t enough police on this little strip of road? Or perhaps it was fictional. Who is to say it wasn’t?
Last month, on the other side of the nation, another governmental official was detained, in a very different kind of stop, by a different governmental entity. Former Arizona governor, Raul Castro, was stopped by the border patrol after setting off a radiation detecting device used by homeland security.
After it was determined that the 96 year old former governor and diplomat was in fact not part of a joint Mexican/al Qaeda plot to set off a nuclear device in Tucson, (he had in fact, had some medical procedures done on his pace maker the day before, which carried residual radiation), he was denied requests to return to his car as they continued with appropriate paperwork. The 96 year old man, with a heart condition, was made to stand outside in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, (in a suit… he was on his way to his own 96th birthday party) for more than 40 minutes. http://my.auburnjournal.com/detail/212518.html
Now these two stories are newsworthy because the detained individuals are so clearly in the right. But the mouthy 18 year old kid? If a cop says he punched him, whether it happened or not, the charges are assault. And if that kid had a joint in his pocket, or a knife or an expensive piece of jewelry for which he doesn’t happen to have a receipt, he’s not going to college in September. He’s going to jail.
Here is some stop and frisk data from NYC in recent years.
• In 2009, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 581,168 times.
510,742 were totally innocent (88 percent).
310,611 were black (55 percent).
180,055 were Latino (32 percent).
53,601 were white (10 percent).
289,602 were aged 14-24 (50 percent).
• In 2010, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 601,285 times.
518,849 were totally innocent (86 percent).
315,083 were black (54 percent).
189,326 were Latino (33 percent).
54,810 were white (9 percent).
295,902 were aged 14-24 (49 percent).
• In 2011, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 685,724 times.
605,328 were totally innocent (88 percent).
350,743 were black (53 percent).
223,740 were Latino (34 percent).
61,805 were white (9 percent).
341,581 were aged 14-24 (51 percent).
• In the first three months of 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 203,500 times
181,457 were totally innocent (89 percent).
108,097 were black (54 percent).
69,043 were Latino (33 percent).
18,387 were white (9 percent).
Please note that about 17% of NYC residents are black, and about 18% are latino. Yet these two groups are a little bit overrepresented in the stop and frisk practices, and demonstrated by the above data. White (non Hispanic) New Yorkers represent about 58% of the residents.