Don Roach: Don’t Frisk Me, Bro
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Am I alone in this because there doesn’t appear to be an uproar over the NSA’s surveillance program, college students handcuffed after purchasing sparkling water of all things, and President Obama’s recent Executive Order that basically says we can find you anytime, anywhere, and via any communications means necessary, you privacy loving citizens.
Sigh. I’m just plain fed up with this.
Enough is enough
Luckily, US District Court Judge Shira Sheindin decided that enough was enough and ruled that NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy was unconstitutional. Stop and frisk gained prominence in a late 1960s Supreme Court Case, Terry v. Ohio, wherein the Supreme Court stated that if police officers have “reasonable suspicion” but do not have probably cause to arrest, they are able to detain and frisk a would-be perp. In New York City, the “stop and frisk” policy has been implemented since the mid 90s.
Here’s the rub, since 2002 7 out of 8 people stopped and frisked are not arrested. That’s approximately 88 percent of the people and seems to fall well short of the “reasonable suspicion” precedent set by the Court. What’s also interesting is the racial make up of those who are stopped. First, here are the racial demographics of New York City. As of 2010 there were approximately 33 percent non-hispanic whites, 26 percent blacks, 29 percent Hispanics, and 13 percent Asians in the city.
Think the “stop and frisk” stats mirror the population?.....rrrrrigggghhhhhtttt.
Last year, 532,911 New Yorkers were stopped as part of the stop and frisk program. About 474 thousand of these people were not charged with a crime. That’s 89 percent not doing anything wrong yet subjected to being detained by the cops and frisked. About 284 thousand of these people happen to be black. That’s 55 percent of all incidents despite only being 26 percent of the total population. Whites were stopped only 50 thousand times or 10 percent of the time.
Again 89 percent of these people were guilty of nothing but “looking suspicious”? I want to focus less on the racial makeup (we’ve covered that ad nauseum in recent weeks) and more on this whole concept of “reasonable suspicion”.
Our government is getting way to reckless and cavalier about its attempts to “fight crime”. What’s so crazy is that both the Bush and Obama administrations (two guys not in the same ideological timezone) have increased efforts to intrude on our private lives. That’s scary because what party can we turn to and roll back on this and other types of intrusion?
At the same time the government is intruding on our lives, don’t you also get the sense that they are seeking to be more secretive about their activities? That’s just the definition of hypocrisy. When is America going to rise up and start picketing against government intrusion the same way we picket against other issues? I’m not saying those issues don’t matter, but when it’s all said and done cell phone records don’t care about skin color or your sexual partner.
We need to stand up and say to the government, Don’t frisk me, bro!
Don Roach is fed up and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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