Editorials

End ‘stop-and-frisk’ racial profiling

Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly love to tout New York City’s declining crime rate as something that should make all New Yorkers feel safer, and they are right on that point. But they give a great deal of credit for the decline to the city’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, which critics say amounts to unfair racial profiling of young men of color by police, and that has many residents understandably upset.

The UFT Delegate Assembly passed a resolution opposing the policy on May 17, a day after the union hosted a press conference where critics of the policy announced a rally to protest it on Father’s Day, June 17.

The resolution notes that the number of police stops and searches of New Yorkers on city streets and subways has grown by more than 700 percent in the last decade, rising from 97,000 in 2002 to more than 685,000 in 2011, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. That group also points out that 87 percent of the people stopped were people of color and that 53 percent were African-American, which is double their proportion in the city’s population.

Most stops take place in police precincts with the largest concentrations of people of color and the fewest stops take place in precincts with the largest concentrations of white residents.

“We like good policing, safe schools and safe communities. We don’t have a problem with that,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said at the Delegate Assembly. “But when you target young men of color for no other reason than the color of their skin, we do have a problem with that.”

He went on to note that many other large U.S. cities that are experiencing similar significant drops in crime are doing so without “stop-and-frisk” policies.

That’s why the union is urging UFT members to join civil rights organizations, labor unions and religious and community groups in attending the “Silent March Against Racial Profiling” at 1 p.m. on June 17 at 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Lenox Avenue to call for an end to racial profiling of the city’s youth.

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