Recent investigations into the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, which is ostensibly to find firearms but doesn’t usually work out that way, show that not only are the searches illegal in many cases, but they overwhelmingly target men of color in poor areas. These stops result in tens of thousands of arrests every year for small-scale weed possession, some of which would be thrown out if a judge ever saw them. But because most people don’t know their rights, the cycle spins on: through the end of March, the NYPD has 183,326 stop-and-frisks on record this year, the highest number since they started keeping track in 2004. Of those, 11,925 people were arrested and 10,292 were issued tickets. Unsurprisingly, a majority of those stopped were black.
Via the Wall Street Journal, those numbers mean that 12.1 percent of the stops resulted in charges or arrests, which is a little bit less than last year.
50.6 percent of the stops were black, down from 53.3 percent last year, while 26.6 percent were white or Hispanic, 9.2 percent white and 6.8 percent black Hispanic. The NYPD line is that “the descriptions of criminal suspects, and not overall population demographics, guide its decisions on whom to stop, and when.” Safe to say it’s more or less all men.
The New York Civil Liberties Union told the Journal that the numbers “are going in the absolutely wrong direction,” as they’re forced to do every time a new report is released. At this point, they must get sick of the same lines, and yet the song remains the same: “This practice seriously undermines the quality of life for people of color in New York City, particularly in the poorest, most vulnerable neighborhoods.”