Why Stop and Frisk is Not Good For America


Queens, NY (September 30, 2016) New York Police Officers conducting a search on random civilian in the Flushing section of Queens, NY (Photo Credit: Lauren Benzo)


Halfway through the first presidential debate for the election of 2016, the evening’s moderator Lester Holt asked Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to speak on the racial divide in the United States and on ways they can bridge the gap between Americans that are living with different life experiences in this country.

Hillary started the conversation with responses that highlighted her strengths. She then revolved the conversation towards criminal justice reform and emphasized new training and techniques for police officers. She also spoke on bringing communities together and encouraged mutual respect between police departments and the people that took an oath to protect and serve.

While Clinton was speaking on the subject at hand, Trump stated off his response with, “Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words and that’s ‘law and order.’ And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.”

While trying to be appealing to voters of color he stated, “We have a situation where we have our inner cities… African Americans… Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.”

He then added that cities like Chicago need stop-and-frisk to make them safe. This was not the first time Trump has supported the thought of stop-and-frisk. During a pre-recorded “core black issues" town-hall interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump announced that he would like to see “stop-and frisk” policing to be enforced nationwide as a way to end violence in the black communities.

Deputy Legal Director at the American Civil Liberties Union and policing expert Jeff Roberts stated to The Daily Beast, “Any politician who would go to a black community and say stop-and-frisk is the solution to your problems is showing no respect for the intellectual capacity of that community.”

He went on to say, “Trump’s message here is that in order to save the black community, we must destroy it… I don’t know if Mr. Trump has ever been stopped and frisked by the police, but any politician who would suggest this as a solution has a serious credibility problem.”

New York, NY (September 30, 2016) New York Police Officers conducting a search on random civilian in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. (Photo Credit: Lauren Benzo)
New York, NY (September 30, 2016) New York Police Officers conducting a search on random civilian in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. (Photo Credit: Lauren Benzo)

District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled the controversial police tactic unconstitutional on August 12, 2013. The Bloomberg administration appealed, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the order. They then sent it back to a new judge, but the court denied the motion to vacate Schneidlin’s decision. New York City Mayor de Blasio’s administration eventually dropped the appeal.

Many people were puzzled that a person running for the President of the United States would say that this tactic would be in conjunction with his plan of criminal justice reform for the year of 2016 and so forth.

He also argued with Lester Holt that this tactic was not ruled unconstitutional by saying, “No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge who was a very against police judge. It was taken away from her and our mayor, our new mayor refused to go forward with the case. They would have won the appeal.”

In all due reality, the stop-and-frisk tactic is an example of racial profiling. While New York City was under stop-and-frisk, it became a place where people of color, mainly men, could be detained for belonging to a class that had been deemed suspect. This is what Trump suggests as a plan for dealing with crime and violence within inner city communities in the United States.

While reading the analysis by NYCLU, it revealed that innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than five million times since 2002. Not only were the black and latino communities overwhelming targets of the tactics, it was nearly nine out of 10 stop-and-frisk victims that were innocent and stopped not for of a probable cause, but because of the color of their skin.

So, when Donald Trump asked the black voters in August of 2016, “What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty, Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

For the men and women of color or not of color, that lives in this country who care about their rights and civil liberties, the response to that question is perfectly simple: Our freedom and so much more!