San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced his plan to bring stop-and-frisk to the Bay Area last week, unleashing a well-deserved backlash from SF citizens. NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams, who spoke at the Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin back in March and proposed in February that officers give out a business card with their info after frisking to increase accountability, sent Mayor Lee a letter kindly advising him of a) the ultimate failure of stop-and-frisk to curb the spread of illegal guns on the streets, and b) the subsequent racial profiling by the NYPD in the course of last year’s 685,724 stop-and-frisks.
The problem, Williams says, is that the “standard of reasonable suspicion has been seriously abused by the NYPD, who have employed a quota system to drive up perceived performance and to institute an arbitrary and inaccurate measure of productivity.”
Williams joins NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman in condemning the unconstitutionality of the NYPD’s racial profiling. If Mayor Lee ignores the will of the people–and the warnings of his own Fourth Estate–he can gleefully expect mass protest marches on family holidays. And street abuse to judicial officials covered up or ignored. And damning analyses of police records to reveal more stop-and-frisks to young black males than the entire young black male population, despite 90% of those stopped and frisked being released as innocent. And to have your city’s Civil Liberties Union produce a mobile app to crowdsource the documentation of stop-and-frisk abuse because the institution’s accountability has lost all credibility.
Then you can go in front of your constituency and tell them that, no, stopping and frisking minorities disproportionately is pretty okay, but you’ll try to get your cops to be a bit more courteous about it.