Civil Rights Groups Eye Youth Vote to Sway Mayoral Election On Stop And Frisk


At this point, it goes without saying the controversy that is stop and frisk will be a staple of the 2013 mayoral race.

Floyd v. New York – a case that seeks to upend the controversial practice – is heating up, as the NYPD seeks to justify its usage through intimidating tutorial videos. The Community Safety Act, which would implement serious transparency measures on the boys in blue, is currently making its way through City Council, with each major figure in New York City politics taking a stand on it. And, of course, we learned last week that stop and frisk numbers are actually dropping as we move closer to the ballots.

The momentum is evident here but, for voters, their options are limited. As of now, Comptroller John C. Liu is the only candidate that has called for the complete repeal of stop and frisk across the five boroughs. Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio has called for its reform, holding themselves back from full elimination of a policy that has racked up 5 million tallies since its inauguration.

So, when it pertains to stop and frisk, what better time for civil rights groups to call on the youth vote to get things done?

As we’ve unfortunately heard time and time again, the statistics on stop and frisk are skewed towards minorities so much that it seems the NYPD is almost asking for citizen backlash. Naturally, a wide majority of these stops are happening in Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx neighborhoods known for their higher crime rates. So a get out the vote initiative asking young adults, “Hey, do you want to elect a mayor who actually wants to make sure you’re not uncomfortably searched for little or no probable cause?”, in these specific areas makes the most sense.

That’s exactly what Communities United for Police Reform has done. The group is a conglomerate of known anti-stop-and-frisk advocates like the NYCLU and Drug Policy Alliance and, last week, it launched a volunteer campaign in 13 neighborhoods to register young adults for the upcoming primaries. The results so far: a thousand new voters in the state’s ranks.

Of course, most GOTV efforts are ignored for having minimal effect on the Big Picture (think: P. Diddy and Paris Hilton, 2004, “Vote or Die” campaign) but the New York City mayoral primares are shaping up to be one of the tightest in recent memory. Although Quinn maintains her frontrunner distance from Democratic rivals, it’s not a dominant lead and that is to say nothing will happen between now and September, which is a highly unlikely scenario. And let’s not even get started on a possible Weiner For City Hall campaign.

The youth vote hasn’t been a reckoning force in city politics in years. But this is the first election without Bloomberg in a decade so, literally, anything can happen. Every vote counts.