Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Will Police Racial Harassment Ever End?

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After examining racial disparities among the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk victims in 2011, BlackAmericaWeb blogger Michael H. Cottman says it time for the contemptible practice to stop.

… Years earlier, my father had warned me about a special Detroit police unit called STRESS, for Stop the Robberies and Enjoy Safe Streets, an all-white division of heavy-handed cops that patrolled the pavements of Detroit looking for black men to harass and, in some cases, kill.

If I was ever pulled over by police, my father said firmly, never reach into the glove compartment for my car insurance card unless I told the officer what I was doing. He feared I could be shot by racially-insensitive cops who thought I may be reaching for a gun.

So there I was, standing nervously on the curb, while nosey neighbors peered through their blinds watching as I was being frisked and interrogated.

I could barely hear the dispatcher on the police radio describing the assailant who had just robbed a liquor store. The police officers who were harassing me quickly determined that I was not the black suspect they were looking for, and, with no apology or explanation, they sped off and disappeared into the night.

I thought back to that unsettling moment 39 years ago after reading a report this week by the Center for Constitutional Rights summarizing stop-and-frisk statistics for 2011 by the New York City Police Department.

The troubling numbers reflect the highest yearly total stops to date — 684,330 — with no meaningful change in huge racial disparities. This total is 14 percent higher than the number of stops in 2010, and it represents a more than 600 percent increase since 2002, the year the NYPD began keeping stop-and-frisk figures.

Consider this: Eighty-seven percent of those stopped in 2011 were African-American or Latino, and nine out of 10 persons stopped were not arrested, nor did they even receive tickets or citations.


Read Michael H. Cottman's entire blog entry at BlackAmericaWeb.