1199SEIU President George Gresham joined NAACP President Ben Jealous and National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers in lower Manhattan to announce a Silent March to End Stop and Frisk that will be held on Fathers’ Day, June 17. The march will protest the discriminatory, brutal and humiliating tactic of racial profiling used by the NYPD against hundreds of thousands of innocent people each year.
“Stop and Frisk is a human rights crisis,” said Jealous. “Stop and Frisk sews racial division, distracts law enforcement, is based on a lie and needlessly humiliates thousands of people on the streets of New York City each year.”
More than four million people have been stopped under the Bloomberg administration’s implementation of the policy. The overwhelming majority of those affected are Black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24. Though the administration claims that Stop and Frisk is necessary to lower crime and keep illegal firearms off the streets, less than one percent of the 685,724 stops conducted by the NYPD in 2011 yielded a gun, arrest or even a ticket issued to the person stopped.
“When you look at the statistics you cannot say that Stop and Frisk has improved the quality of life in New York City,” said Gresham. “I have to ask myself, ‘Have I trained and developed my son enough to show no sign of nervousness if he is stopped by the police so he is not the victim of force?’ It’s time to develop policies which represent all the residents of New York.”
Elected officials, labor leaders, clergy and community group representatives joined Gresham, Jealous, Sharpton at the news conference, held at the headquarters of the United Federation of teachers. Participants included NAACP New York State head Hazel Dukes, New York City Council members Jumaane Williams and Melissa Mark Viverito, City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio.
The recent deaths of Ramarley Graham in the Bronx and Trayvon Martin in Florida have heightened public awareness of the deadly consequences of Stop and Frisk and Stand Your Ground laws.
“We at the National Action Network have to deal with the casualties of Stop and Frisk,” said Sharpton. “It is a crime when young Black and Latino males, who make up four percent of the population, are the majority of those stopped. Too often in our communities we are victimized by the cops and the robbers.”
Sharpton explained that the Silent March would be held on Father’s Day in recognition of the fathers and sons who have been shamed and emasculated by the policy and would be on Fifth Avenue “because we want to go through a neighborhood where we know we won’t be stopped and frisked.”
City Council ]member Jumaane Williams drew nods of understanding as he approached the microphone. “I’m a young Black man from Brooklyn. I’m unarmed. Please don’t be alarmed,” Williams said. “I wish [Mayor] Bloomberg would stop playing with the numbers. Slavery was good for our economy, but it was morally unconscionable. Stop and Frisk is also morally unconscionable.”
Williams challenged Mayor Bloomberg to return to common sense policies that actually make the city safer and to restore badly needed resources to high-crime communities.
“We need to make sure that Trayvon Martin’s death will not be in vain,” said SEIU Local 32-BJ Secretary Treasurer Hector Figueroa.“The lessons learned from this horrific incident require us to ensure that no one, including our young people across the city, ever feel targeted because of the color of their skin.”
For more information log onto www.silentmarchnyc.org.
Read related Huffington Post article on Stop and Frisk