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New York City: Not Such A Good Place To Be Young, Black, And Male

May 2, 2013

Stop-and-FriskPerhaps you have heard of the practice known as “stop and frisk” in New York City? Perhaps you have even heard tell that the policy has lead to more stops of young black men than there actually are young black men in the city? Maybe you’ve heard about the audio recorded evidence of  NYPD officers explicitly being instructed to racially profile “male blacks 14 to 21”? If not, go ahead and click through the above links and read up. I’ll wait… …

Okay, so now that you’re properly outraged, you’ll surely want to know that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelley are all over this. Civil liberties and justice will prevail!


Echoing what Joan Walsh called Mayor Bloomberg’s “ugly” defense of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice, police commissioner Ray Kelley this week said that African Americans are “understopped” by police. During an interview with ABC Wednesday night, the commissioner and the stop-and-frisk tactic’s greatest defender, said that “African Americans are being understopped in relation to people being described as perpetrators of violent crime.” (Salon – emphasis mine)

Rather than owning up to an unconstitutional and ineffective policy (over 5 million stops and 88% don’t result in arrest or summons), Bloomberg and Kelley are doubling down, deflecting and sticking to highly flawed “statistics” to justify the policy. They are suggesting that since 75% of violent crime victims describe the perpetrators as black males, that makes it okay to profile all black males and to treat them as criminals. I call bullshit.

Oh, and there’s also this little fact:

The number of stop-and-frisks carried out yearly since 2003 has nearly quadrupled. However, the number of weapons recovered from stops each year has remained pretty much constant. Meanwhile, marijuana arrests have spiked (while suspicion of drug possession is cited by police in less than 10 percent of instances as the reason for a stop). Federal statistics also consistently show that marijuana use is more prevalent among young white people than young black people. So: more guns are not being recovered, more young black men are being arrested for marijuana possession, while more white people are users of the drug. And yet, says Kelly (with malleable stats at his finger tips) African Americans are being “understopped.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013 6:18 pm

    In reality, we should all recognize that black folks are treated this way because African-Americans are still not considered citizens in the US. They’re just getting more blatant about it. But let me tell you, one could argue that things are worse for black males in Brazil, in a number of cities!

  2. May 2, 2013 5:06 pm

    Geez, I thought our country had progressed past this 😦

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