Earlier this month, Anne Branigin, The Root’s resident hot pot connoisseur, revealed some startling statistics:
A recent StreetsBlog analysis found that, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2019, NYPD issued 316 summonses for jaywalking—and nearly 90 percent went to black or Latinx people (as the article notes, this rate dwarfs the city’s black and Latinx population, which sits around 55 percent). Jaywalkers between the ages of 18 and 25 were also disproportionately targeted, receiving 44 percent of all tickets despite being just 7 percent of the population.
This is a question of which neighborhoods are being ticketed as much as it is which citizens. More than half of the summonses (164) came from police precincts in the Bronx. Despite the fact that Manhattan has the most pedestrians, police in that borough only issued 29 jaywalking summonses in that 9 month period.
And now comes the news that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will investigate exactly why in the hell so many black and brown folks are being disproportionately targeted for jaywalking. Because surely it can’t have anything to do with the color of their skin, right?
According to the New York Daily News, in response to Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s promise to provide a solution to this disparity, de Blasio expressed his concern with the report’s findings.
“Any time a question of disparity comes up I want to see it addressed,” he said. “And this is a nonstop effort to ensure that policing is fair across all communities.”
Nothing in America is fair across all communities, but Johnson’s approach to addressing the matter was a bit more rational.
“I’m not encouraging people jaywalking but who hasn’t jaywalked in NYC?” Johnson told reporters on Monday. “It’s crazy and the enforcement of more people of color getting the tickets—when we know more people of color are not jaywalking more than white people—shows a disproportionate level of policing in that community. We need to look at that.”
De Blasio maintains that much like alarm clocks or speed limits, tickets for jaywalking are, in fact, a necessary evil.
“We’ve got to figure out, with real challenges with busier and busier streets, how we use enforcement for everyone, the right way,” he said. “But it has to be fair. If the Council’s trying to ensure that it’s fair, I commend them, and we’ll work with them.”
No word yet on de Blasio’s plan of attack, but in the interim, if you’re black or brown you might want to wait until the light is green before crossing the street.