Sheldon Hoyte, a dialysis technician at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center, is among the young members of 1199SEIU who will join thousands of New Yorkers for a June 17 silent march in Manhattan.
The march, sponsored by 1199SEIU and a host of labor, civil and human rights, and faith-based organizations, will shine a light on New York City’s discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy that each year targets hundreds of thousands of innocent Black and Latino youth.
“I’m tired of the outrageous racial profiling in our city,” says Hoyte. “When people like me see cops, instead of feeling safer, it just makes us uneasy.”
Hoyte, who is 30, says he was first stopped in his Brooklyn neighborhood when he was 15 and had recently arrived from his native Trinidad and Tobago. “I’ve been stopped at least eight other times since then and I’ve never been charged with a crime.”
Statistics bear out Hoyte’s experience. In 2011, the New York Police Department, conducted 685,764 street stops, a more than 600 percent increase since Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first year in office. Nine out of 10 of those stopped are totally innocent, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) statistics show. And although the retrieval of hand guns is the ostensible reason for the stops, no gun is retrieved in 99.9 percent of the stops.
Research by the NYCLU has determined that during the Bloomberg administration, more than 85 percent of people stopped in the city are Black or Latino. And though they account for only 4.7 percent of the population, Black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of the stops last year. Again, 90 percent of them were innocent. In fact, the number of stops of young Black men last year exceeded the entire city population of young Black males.
1199SEIU President George Gresham has called for a big turnout of 1199ers for the silent march. 1199ers and their family members are expected from throughout the New York metropolitan region. PurpleGold, the 1199SEIU young members organization will be well represented. “I’ll be there to protest what I consider modern-day apartheid,” says Montefiore Hospital accounting rep Victor Freytas, a PurpleGold member, as is Hoyte. “Stop and Frisk doesn’t make us safe. It keeps us down,” Freytas says. “I for one don’t want to live in a police state.”
Marchers will gather for the vigil at 1 p.m. on 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues.