On Monday, April 23rd, president of 1199SEIU George Gresham, Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the NAACP Benjamin Jealous and New York State NAACP president Hazel Dukes met with labor leaders, elected officials and local grassroots organizations to plan a march protesting the NYPD’s stop and frisk and racial profiling practices. The march will take place on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 17th) at 1 p.m. It will begin at 110th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem and will continue in a silent procession to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s townhouse on the Upper East Side.
The coalition is targeting Mayor Bloomberg because he and police Commissioner Ray Kelly have been strong proponents of Stop and Frisk and other forms of racial profiling, which unfairly target young men of color, particularly those who are Black, Latino and South Asian. According to the group, the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices have become even more of a problem under Mayor Bloomberg than they were under former Mayor Giuliani.
Gresham and others emphasized the need for a multi-racial march to demonstrate that these practices are damaging to people of all backgrounds, including white New Yorkers. “This is an issue for all people of color and all people of conscience,” Gresham said.
In addition to the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices, the march will draw attention to the possibility of a “Stand Your Ground” law coming to New York City. “Stand Your Ground” permits a person to use deadly force against another without the duty to retreat. Critics refer to it as the “shoot first” defense.
Speakers said that although the Trayvon Martin case in Florida has drawn national attention, there have been many equally disturbing incidences in which law enforcement officials have killed innocent black men, making a New York City protest essential to the movement against racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws.
“Taking on racial profiling in New York City is how we can end racial profiling nationwide,” said Jealous. “No one should be able to be elected as mayor of New York unless they are committed to ending stop and frisk. This is about keeping our communities and our children safe.”
“"There is nothing more systematically wrong than stop and frisk," said Reverend Sharpton, President and Founder National Action Network. "Stop and Frisk is not a defensive, but offensive policy by the NYPD, and it is an act of racial profiling",” said Reverend Sharpton. “Stop and Frisk is not a defensive but an offensive policy by the NYPD.”
In addition to the organizations represented by the conveners of the meeting, other participating organizations include the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the NYC Central Labor Council, the Working Families Party, Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, Vocal New York, The Black Institute and Communities United for Police Reform, among others. Several elected officials also voiced their support and participation, including NYC Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Kevin Parker, Assemblymembers Karim Camara and Hakeem Jeffries and City Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tish James and Fernando Cabrera. Union supporters include SEIU 32BJ, UAW, UFT, TWU Local 100, PSC-CUNY, RWDSU, HTC and the Communications Workers of America.