“This is an issue for all people of color and all people of conscience,” said George Gresham, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which along with the Transit Workers Union has issued leaflets to mobilize its members for the march.
Dozens of immigrant rights groups took part in a May 31 press conference at the New York Municipal Building to announce their backing of the protest. “Now that Secure Communities is active in New York, the consequences of such [stop-and-frisk] targeting include deportation and the breakup of families,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
The action is also being built by a range of groups from other cities in the region.
The march will assemble at 110th Street east of Fifth Avenue in Harlem at 1 p.m. and march at 3 p.m. to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s townhouse on the Upper East Side.
The press conference calling the demonstration was prominently featured in Ebony magazine. The New York police “stopped 685,724 people last year alone,” the magazine reported, noting “87% of those individuals are people of color.”
More than 55 percent of those were frisked; almost 90 percent were never charged with anything.
The number of stop and frisks in New York City has jumped 700 percent since 2002, the New York Civil Liberties Union reported May 9.
Black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops here last year, although they comprise only 4.7 percent of the city’s population. The number of young Black men stopped exceeds the entire city population of young Black men.
The most common pretext cited in cops’ reports for stopping people was “furtive movement.”
In 2011, according to the cops’ own statistics, they put their hands on 126,000 of those they stopped, pushed 20,000 against a car or wall, threw 2,400 on the ground, pointed a gun at 1,700, pepper sprayed 107 and hit 87 with their clubs.
Supporters of Dan Fein, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in New York, fanned out across the city June 3 to distribute the Militant, the campaign newspaper, and build the June 17 protest.
“I’ll be there,” Josh Wiggins, 42, told campaigners at a table in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a predominantly Black working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn. “It happened to me last week. I was walking home with a friend from a barbecue, we each had a plate of food. Cops suddenly jumped out of their car, made us put our plates on the ground, frisked us and made us show our IDs. When they were done, they said ‘go about your business’ and left with no explanation.
“Before you would see a group of cops frisking someone, you would assume they probably did something,” Wiggins said. “Now when you see it, you assume the opposite.”
“I’ve been stopped plenty of times,” said James Brinkley, a 41-year-old African-American. “I have no criminal record, still I get treated like a criminal. I’ve been frisked and they don’t even leave the car.”
“There are no rights anymore,” Freddy Williams, 59, said. “At one time police could not come into our neighborhood and pounce on someone because we had unity. We would stand up.”
“I’ve been stopped a lot of times by the cops, for nothing,” Marco Roman, a young Puerto Rican, told Socialist Workers campaigners on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. “Cops say they’re ‘looking for someone’ and or they have to see if you have a gun. Even if they don’t take you in, they write down your name and the information from your ID.”
“I know about that protest, my union is going to be there,” Desiree Green, a hospital receptionist and member of SEIU 1199, told campaigners in the Bronx. “I’m going. So many young men are being stopped by the police, so many are being killed.”
For more information on the demonstration, go to www.silentmarchnyc.org.
Deborah Liatos, Susan LaMont, Doug Nelson and Candace Wagner from New York contributed to this article.
Join us, protest stop and frisk in NY!
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home