Stop-and-Frisk Puts Young New Yorkers in a Difficult Position With Authority

Kevin Vidal, 17, a senior at Manhattan Business Academy, was relaxing in his cousin’s car late one night in Jamaica, Queens, on the way to his grandfather’s house. They were speaking their native language, Spanish, when an NYPD officer decided to inspect the car.

The officer told Kevin and his cousin to exit the car. When Kevin asked why, the police officer said he smelled drugs, and told his partner to check the trunk of the car. The police officer did not find any drugs or illegal objects. In the end, Vidal and his cousin were let go, but the experience left a lasting impression on him.

“He was just suspecting us because we were speaking Spanish,” Vidal said . “I felt like they were being racist.”

This year, New York City police officers carried out more stop-and-frisks than ever before. Many young people believe these tactics are straining the relationship between the youth and police.

Andrew Joseph, 17, a senior at Bishop Ford high school, is one of the young New Yorkers who believe stop-and-frisk tactics are not right.

“I think that it’s wrong that they discriminate against certain people,” said Joseph. “[They] stop certain ethnicities more than others.”

Joseph thinks that young people are also upset at police because they are the authority.

“To put it simply, we don’t want the man holding us down,” he said.

Robert Gangi, Founder of the Police Reform Organizing Project at the Urban Justice Center, works to change the methods of the NYPD through meetings, petitions, and media such as YouTube videos.

“[The Stop-and-Frisk tactics] are harmful to the individuals who are subjected to it,” he says. “[They] are mainly focused on young black and brown men…in an attempt to send a message and make the streets hard for them.”

Gangi believes that stop-and-frisk not only affects the youth, but also the communities they grow up in.

“[They] undermine the social norms that are building blocks to maintain a stable community,” he said.

He believes the numbers of stop-and-frisk incidents are growing because of demands from the police officer’s superiors.

“[These tactics] are driven by an excessively engrossed quota system,” says Gangi.

The statistics on stop-and-frisk cases this year are proof of that growth. In the first three months of this year the NYPD stopped New Yorkers 203,500 times. Of those people, 89 percent were not convicted of any crime, 87 percent were of color and only 9 percent were white, according to New York Civil Liberties Union.

Mayor Bloomberg denies that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics racially profile.

On Jun. 10 at Parishioners Of The First Baptist Church Of Brownsville, the Mayor claimed that the stop-and-frisks were to prevent crime and had nothing to do with age or race.

“The majority of those with the rank of police officer are minorities. And that’s as it should be. The most diverse city in the world deserves the most diverse police department, and we’ve built it,” the mayor said at a press conference in June. “Now, there are also some who say we are stopping too many black and Hispanic young men. Let me say clearly: Racial profiling is wrong and we will not tolerate it.”

The Mayor is not the only one in favor of stop-and-frisk.

“If it takes guns off the streets and helps to avoid injury, I see it as a pro rather than a con,” said Mike Jones, 51, a stockbroker from Brooklyn.

But Jones also believes that these actions have consequences with young people.

“[Stop-and-Frisk would] make them very suspicious and angry,” he said. “Not trusting of authority.”

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