The scandals growing out of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk policy grow larger and more outrageous every day.
In the Bronx, an Afro-American medical student named David Floyd got stopped and frisked twice, once for being black while walking, a second time for having the temerity to help a neighbor who had been locked out.
An organization called the Center for Constitutional Rights, after interviewing stop-and-risk victims – “victims” is the only proper term for most of them – made this finding:
A number of people interviewed by CCR stated that during the course of being stopped by the NYPD they were inappropriately touched, sexually harassed, and/ or sexually assaulted. Several interviewees described having their genitals touched or groped by the NYPD during searches and/or were told or forced by the NYPD to remove their clothes in public. Speaking out against inappropriate touching can lead to a charge of resisting arrest. These experiences often leave people feeling disrespected and violated.
And the victims have a right to be scared. You can be innocent of anything, and spend weeks and months going back and forth to court, after being arrested on a trumped up charge after a stop-and-frisk search. Your life and your future can be ruined even if a judge eventually throws out your arrest as unwarranted. You can lose your job (and quite a few people do.) Few companies want to hear that their employees have been absent because they’ve been arrested. You can even lose your homeless shelter pass for not being there because you were being held by a cop trying to make quota.
A whistle-blower policeman named Pedro Serrano, now in deep trouble for getting fed up with the system that forced him to stop, frisk and sometimes arrest innocent people, tape-recorded his supervisors giving clearly illegal orders and suggestions.
Bronx NYPD officer Pedro Serrano taped his supervisor telling him, in a recording that was introduced as evidence in court, “The problem was what? Male blacks. And I told you that at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this: male blacks 14 to 20.”
And then there are stop-and-frisk incidents that lead to sheer, unwarranted brutality, like this one:
My jeans were ripped. I had bruises on my face. My whole face was swollen. I was sent to the precinct for disorderly conduct. I got out two days later. The charges were dismissed. At central booking, they threw out the charge. No charge. I felt like I couldn’t defend myself, didn’t know what to do. No witnesses there to see what was going on. I just wish someone was there to witness it. I felt like no one would believe me. I couldn’t tell anyone. I kept it in till now... I still am scared.
You’d think that anyone with a sense of justice, or even a dim inkling of basic morality, would be outraged by this. But not Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is all but commiting verbal assault against those who support moves – from court actions to proposed legislation – to limit these stop-and-frisks and to have an Inspector General review cases. Hey, the U.S. Army has an IG. The State Department has one. So do numerous other Federal departments and agencies. But heaven forbid we should have impartial inspectors in New York City government. The police department and the mayor insist they should be above the law. Why?
In what was described as “a 45 minute tirade” by the Huffington Post – a rant amplified by other statements made he to TV cameras in New York City – Bloomberg blasted the enemies of police state-ism.
"Make no mistake, this is a dangerous piece of legislation and anyone who supports it is courting disaster," Bloomberg said, addressing a crowd of dozens of uniformed police officers on the second floor of police headquarters."If you end street stops looking for guns, there will be more guns on the streets, and more people will be killed. It’s that simple."
No Mayor, only a simpleton would think it’s that simple, and the fact that you did your preaching in a roomful of the converted is almost prima facie evidence that you know damn well it’s not that simple.
What you’re doing is the equivalent of bombing and strafing the entire Boston Marathon – runners, innocent bystanders and the press – to kill some bombers “before they do any harm.” Your cops aren't looking for guns. They're searching people whom they know perfectly well aren't carrying guns. Your cops are looking to make their stop-and-frisk and arrest quotas.
Some facts and figures you don’t want to hear, Mayor:
▪ In 88 percent of these encounters—4.4 million—the person detained was doing nothing wrong.
▪ Nearly 90 percent of those stopped were Black or Latino.
▪ Only 1.9 percent of those frisked in 2011 had a weapon.
In 2002, there were less than 100,000 stop-and-frisk stops; in 2011 there were 685,724—a 600 percent increase.
The truth is, for seven years or so I lived three blocks from the mayor’s private mansion, which is located on East 79th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue, in New York’s richest zip code, 10021. In all that time I saw not one of these over half-a-million stop-and-frisks, simply because they don’t happen to white people in rich white neighborhoods.
If they did, if the teenager children of bankers and bond brokers and corporate moguls got stopped and frisked and felt up and brutalized and busted on the way to prep-school, the way it happens to kids in other boroughs and parts of Manhattan on the way to high school, the practice would stop in a millisecond.
Yes, a reasonable – I said reasonable – suspicion of illegal possession of a weapon, or of possession of stolen property or hard drugs ought to be investigated. But the cops aren’t acting on their suspicions, based on the search victim's "walking in a furtive manner," whatever that means. The cops are just trying to make their numbers. And the mayor and the police commissioner know that, perfectly well.