Stop-and-Frisk March, Packed and Peaceful

The Root talked to those who protested the controversial police practice as they walked in New York.

The Root

(The Root) -- On a Sunday that started out with blustery winds and slightly overcast conditions, several thousand New Yorkers gathered in upper Manhattan and marched down Fifth Avenue from 110th Street in a remarkably silent protest of the city's stop-and-frisk police policy.

Today's march -- led by a coalition of organizations and prominent public figures including Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman -- was aimed at drawing attention to NYPD's controversial practice of stopping and questioning residents who seem suspicious.

The tactic -- which some say unfairly targets blacks and Latinos -- has been defended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other members of his administration.

Many of those who participated described situations in which they often felt like they received special negative attention from police.

Harlem resident Randy Chavis, 48, said he has been stopped but never frisked. "It's sad but it almost comes to the point that if you're careful then you almost think it's the way things just are. And it shouldn't be," he explained to The Root. "That's why I'm out here supporting this. No one should be unjustly stopped and frisked for no justifiable cause."

Jose Hernandez, 31, of the Bronx, said he regularly sees cops stopping other members of his community. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he joined the protest to show solidarity with New Yorkers who have faced police scrutiny.

"It tends to happen more to people who are walking," Hernandez admitted. "But I don't think it matters. It's a racial profiling thing … just because you look a certain way, you shouldn't be outright targeted because of the color of your skin."

Fellow Bronx resident Anthony Cerrino, who was walking beside Hernandez, concurred. "Usually it's with no probable cause. [The police are like,] 'Come here, where are you going, what are you doing, what's your name, do you have anything in your pockets?' " he said. "It's become so commonplace that people like myself, we tend not to say anything anymore."

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Last year, 87 percent of the 685,000 (pdf) people stopped by police officers in New York City were black or Latino, and 88 percent of people stopped were innocent of any crime, according to NYCLU reports.

Silent March to End Stop and Frisk: Photos

Thousands came out on Father's Day 2012 to protest a controversial police practice.