On Sunday’s Meet the Press, we got to hear about stop-and-frisk from all angles, starting with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who made it clear his feelings are extremely bruised by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin appointing an independent monitor to make sure the NYPD doesn’t trample anyone’s civil rights. “This case cries out for appeal,” he told host David Gregory. “The judge has indicted the entire New York City Police Department, 35,000 officers of racial profiling, on the flimsiest of evidence.” Or they’ve indicted the leadership of that department on mountains of evidence. Whichever version of reality you prefer, we suppose.
Kelly’s whole interview was a real jaw-dropper, as he insisted that stop-and-frisk is “preventative,” and used some contorted language to imply that more people of color are criminals, so they deserve to be stopped: “[T]he universe of people who are identified by the victims perpetrators of violent crime, what does that look like?” he asked. “And in New York, that universe certainly comports to the racial makeup of the people who are being stopped.”
He also added that the NYPD is “sensitive” to the concerns of people who say stop-and-frisk is racist, adding, “No one wants to be stopped. At the very least, you’re giving up your time. But we need some balance here. The stark reality is that violence is happening disproportionately in minority communities. And that, unfortunately, is in big cities throughout America.”
NAACP President Ben Jealous said that considering his ambition to be the head of Homeland Security, Kelly’s comments should “send chills down the spine of everyone in this country.” And Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, appeared from Arizona, where she said that stop-and-frisk, like Stand Your Ground, is all about the rule of law.
“You have to give not only civilians but police officers the right direction,” she said. “You can’t give people the authority … the right to stop someone just because of the color of their skin.”
Since the death of her son, Fulton has transformed into a full-time anti-racial-profiling activist, speaking against Stand Your Ground in the 21 states that have it, as well as denouncing both Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill, S.B. 1070, as well as stop-and-frisk. It would have been interesting to see Kelly have to speak to her directly, to defend racial profiling to someone who lost her son as a result of a deranged civilian taking those ideas into his own hands. But unfortunately, they were interviewed at different times. Fulton, though, made it clear she’s in the public eye to stay.
“We understand that it’s not going to be done over night, that it’s going to take time do this,” she told Gregory. “But we’re in it to the long haul. This is a part of my life now.”
As a snapshot of where we stand on racism and law enforcement in America right now, you couldn’t get much better than Sunday morning. Here’s the full clip: