Activists call to action all voters stop-and-frisked

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 6/18/2013, 10:51 a.m.

Communities United for Police Reform have begun a citywide effort to mobilize thousands of voters impacted by stop-and-frisk, calling on everyday people to get involved in action to end the controversial police practice and policy. On May 9, the grassroots organization will be hosting a mayoral forum on community safety at Riverside Church in Harlem.

After Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to pitch a fit at a press conference last week complaining about police critics and lauding the value of the much-disputed stop-and-frisk tactic, Ken Thompson, former federal prosecutor and Brooklyn district attorney candidate stated, "By stubbornly defending stop-and-frisk abuses, in the face of mounting evidence of the need to significantly reform the practice, the mayor and District Attorney [Charles] Hynes are offering a false choice between public safety and civil rights--and pitting communities against law enforcement at the same time.

"As the father of a young son growing up in this city, the abuse and misuse of stop-and-frisk is not just an academic exercise to me, but something that is all too real," he continued. "It's time for new leadership to reform these practices for the sake of all our children and make our streets both safer and stronger."

While the NYPD this week claimed that stop-and-frisks were down considerably, curiously, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly declared that folks should not make a correlation between stop-and-frisks and the crime rate.

Critics argue that the police policy does not reduce crime, but instead creates tension between the police department and the thousands of mostly Black and Latino men who are hauled up and pat down with pockets searched. With only a 10 percent arrest record, critics determine that the policy is ineffectual.

"Protecting New Yorkers and protecting their civil rights do not have to be competing interests," state Sen. Eric Adams told the Amsterdam News. "We must give our law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe--but the abuse of stop-and-frisk is not useful in preventing crime. In fact, it sours communities against working with police -- and that means crucial information isn't shared to stop violence before it can occur."

"Black and Latino youth are tired of being profiled and harassed by police who seem to view all of us as criminals," said Aaron Hinton, a member of VOCAL-NY from Brooklyn who says he has been stopped and frisked at least 28 times. "We're going to mobilize the youth vote because their voices need to be heard. We want these abuses to end. We want an administration and a police department that respects and protects the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, whether they're from East New York or the Upper East Side."

Communities United for Police Reform has recently launched a nonpartisan citywide campaign to encourage the thousands of New Yorkers impacted by stop-and-frisk and other alleged discriminatory policing practices to become active in the 2013 elections. This week, the campaign began efforts to register thousands of new voters--many of whom have been directly affected by discriminatory policing--and they will be hosting a mayoral forum on community safety Thursday, May 9, which is co-presented by the New York Amsterdam News, Gay City News and the website Global Grind. The event takes place at Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive between 120th and 122nd streets) from 5 to 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public and will be moderated by the host of NY1 Noticias' "Pura Politica," Juan Manuel Benitez. It will focus on issues such as stop-and-frisk and other policing practices, policing in schools and gun violence.