Stop-and-frisk protestors take to their smart phone apps

JA'PETH TOULSON Special to the AmNews | 6/14/2012, 2:57 p.m.
Have you ever watched a stop-and-frisk and wished you could document it? While hundreds are...
Stop-and-frisk protestors take to their smart phone apps

Have you ever watched a stop-and-frisk and wished you could document it?

While hundreds are expected to march this Father's Day against stop-and-frisk, silently marching to Bloomberg's home won't be the only tactic protestors use to combat this NYPD tactic, which many in the community describe as racially motivated.

"Stop and Frisk Watch," a free smart phone application, has been introduced by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) to empower New Yorkers to monitor police activity and hold the NYPD accountable for unlawful actions.

According to the NYCLU, the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy led police to stop people 685,754 times on city streets last year, of whom 53 percent were Black and Latino. Eighty-eight percent of those stopped in 2011 were found to be innocent of any crime.

"Our hope is that some of the video that we get will be able to really shine a spotlight on how abusive this practice really is and how humiliating it is for innocent people to be subjected to this kind of practice," said Jennifer Carnig, the NYCLU's director of communications. "We think that if we are able to illustrate what a police stop really looks and feels like, we are going to be able to push for some change."

According to nylcu.org, users can film the incident and automatically stream it to the application's servers or use the "Listen" function to find out when people in their vicinity are being stopped by police. When other app users in the area trigger Stop and Frisk Watch, the user receives a message reporting where the police stop is happening. Shaking the phone stops the video and sends it to the NYLCU, along with a survey allowing users to provide details about the incident.

"These cops keep abusing us," said Constance Malcolm, mother of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot and killed by the police in his home. "They're here to protect us. That's what they're paid for, and often times they abuse us."

William Bell, father of Sean Bell, who was killed by police officers in 2006, said police don't show respect to people living in low-income areas and that they need to walk around the neighborhoods in order to know the community better.

"When they come into our neighborhoods, they don't care," he said. "You've got four or five cops on the corner who are looking at you. You're afraid to walk past them because you don't know what's going to happen. Their training system is really bad."

Now the app is encouraging the community to fight back. Carnig said people local or throughout the nation should download the app, even if they haven't been a victim of stop-and-frisk. The abusive tactic makes everyone feel less safe and communities should not fear and distrust the police.

The National Action Network and LIFE Camp Inc. will unite with the NAACP, SEIU Healthcare 1199 and 115 other organizations to march down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, starting at 110th Street, to protest stop-and-frisk on Sunday, according to silentmarchnyc.org, a website dedicated to ending stop-and-frisk.

"Let's stand together to show that New Yorkers refuse to let our children be victimized by racial profiling," read a statement on the website.