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This must have been awkward.
Earlier this morning, in front of a Sunday congregation at an African-American church in Brownsville, Brooklyn, the Hozziner defended the NYPD’s increasingly controversial “stop and frisk” policy. With its policy’s biggest fan, Commissioner Ray Kelly, in the front row of the church, the Mayor argued that the intense use of stop and frisk is lowering the crime rate in a neighborhood, which the NYPD has designated as an “Impact Zone,” that has one of the highest in all of New York City.
And, if anything, the policy that stopped 160,581 New Yorkers in 2011 “should be amended, not ended.”
As the Voice has reported in the past, the targets of stop and frisk are overwhelmingly black, Hispanic and innocent so something about Bloomberg telling a community that is 70.8% black and 19.1% Hispanic that this policy’s “pros” outweigh the cons we have all read about is a tad uncomfortable.
Also, what could one change about the stop and frisk policy without ending it all together?
To answer that question, the Mayor stated that the policy needs a dose of “civility,” which will come over time, according to Bloomberg, with police discipline reform and a system that constantly monitors the behavior officers. But, the fact that the people whose purpose is to protect and defend us need to be watched over is not the most discerning detail.
And, to battle the accusation that stop and frisk is a guise for racial profiling, Bloomberg fought fire with fire. He mentioned that, in the first week of June, the City witnessed 10 murders, all of which involved a black or Hispanic individual. “Sadly, 96 percent of shooting suspects are black and Latino… I don’t have to tell you about black-on-black crime,” he remarked to the churchgoers.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of New York City crime. But how does any of that justify the physical abuse associated with stop and frisk? This was the question raised soon after Bloomberg’s speech by the First Baptist Church Bishop A.D. Lyons: “I’ll agree that a lot of it is blacks carrying guns. But we’ve got to respect them, even if they are carrying guns.”
We have mentioned before that the success of stop and frisk is one that must be critically questioned: with the NYPD frisking more people in a said demographic than the actual demographic itself, is that really something that the police force can claim as a victory for law enforcement? It’s a matter of authority-civilian relations, where the police view ordinary citizens of color as potential criminals.
And we agree with the Mayor: that is something that needs to be changed as soon as possible.