Friday, August 16, 2013

Let's Hope Stop And Frisk Will Finally Come To An End

I remember years back as my SO and I, along with a couple of his friends, were exiting a backyard BBQ and we were stopped by cops that happened to be driving by at the same time.

What are you doing? Where are you going?

Let me see your IDs!

This is the first time anything like this had ever happened to me. I had never been stopped by a cop, for no apparent reason and asked for ID so naturally I questioned why.

Because I SAID so, so give me your IDs! YOU FIRST!

Before I could open my mouth to say anything else, in a respectful manner of course, my SO intervened and said "just give him your ID, don't make this any worse for us".

Even though none of us were frisked, I definitely felt upset about the situation. Everyone just said the same thing "just do what they say and there won't be any problems", apparently, they learned the hard way that when you ask an officer why they are being stopped, questioned and frisked, the response they get will be aggression, force and a SHUT THE FUCK UP!

My SO comes from a higher crime area than I, so I remember when there was an increased police presence in his area, he seemed to be OK with it. He said it made him feel safer that the police were patrolling the area and liked the idea that if something were to happen, there was always a police officer near by. 

When they started aggressively frisking he seemed OK with that as well. Said he didn't mind getting stopped once or twice if it helped get guns off the streets.

When he was stopped more and more frequently, on his way to and from work, in and out of his building, on his way to the grocery store he became more and more infuriated because he knew his rights were being violated. But what could he do?

He has even been stopped on his lunch break stepping out of his building by cops that wanted to know what he was doing in that neighborhood as they proceeded to frisk him. It wasn't until a white colleague stepped out of the building and questioned what was going on that the cops left him alone.

These are instances that have become all too familiar to law abiding citizens that just want to feel as if the police are there to help their community, not infringe on their constitutional rights.

As a result, many young men of color are being arrested and given summonses for marijuana possession and other small infractions. Drug use is not something that only exists in poor communities of color and arresting certain groups of people for an offense that is committed in ALL communities is racist.

Racial profiling, harassment and aggression do not help to mend police/community relationships, it gives people even more of a reason to not trust the police. It gives people even more of a reason to want police OUT of their neighborhoods because not only are they being terrorized by gang members and drug dealers, they're being terrorized by the very people that are supposed to keep those people off the streets.

Is there a problem with gun violence in the inner city? Absolutely. Does something need to be done to get illegal guns off the streets? Yes. Is stopping, frisking and harassing innocent people helping to get the job done?

Some will say yes, Mayor Bloomberg even stated Blacks and Latinos aren't being stopped enough. Some will say no, the problem of drugs, gang activity and poverty still exist whether the police are frisking people or not. Shouldn't we focus on getting to the root of the problem?

Shouldn't we focus on where those drugs are coming from? On where the illegal handguns are coming from? Drugs and guns may wind up in the hands of poor, minority youths but who is putting them there? Why are we the ones that continuously get punished when we're only a piece of a much larger puzzle?

I think the focus should be more on funding for education and after school activities for kids to open them up to more options than what they may see around them. I think poor, minority communities need access to healthcare that will especially provide resources for those that are battling addiction. We need affordable housing, we need jobs. We need to demand protection from those that try to infringe on our rights as citizens.