Dozens of New Yorkers met on the corner of 74th Street and Roosevelt on Sunday, December 30th, to march through Jackson Heights and demand an end to Stop-and-Frisk, the controversial policy that allows the city’s police officers to stop, question and search anyone they believe to be of a suspicious or possibly criminal nature.
Blowing whistles and distributing flyers along the way, the protesters marched up and then down Roosevelt Avenue, from 74th to 90th Streets. In front of the Jackson Heights Food Court, one protester carried a sign that read “Christine Quinn can de-fund stop-and-frisk from the NYPD budget… but when?” Since Quinn has been Speaker of the City Council, over 3.7 million Stop-and-Frisks have occurred throughout the city.
Speaker Quinn, who is also neck-deep in a campaign for the Mayor’s seat, has been harshly criticized by community activists for not using her current authority to stop or reform the program (despite her occasional tepid opposition to some of the program’s abuses).
The Jackson Heights community in Queens is among the city’s most diverse, bringing together waves of immigrant groups. While enforcement varies, neighbors have complained about Stop and Frisk in the 74th St. area.
Immigrant and minority communities have been especially hard hit by the NYPD’s enforcement of the Stop and Frisk policy. According to the NYCLU,
from 2002 to 2011, black and Latino residents made up close to 90 percent of people stopped, and about 88 percent of stops – more than 3.8 million – were of innocent New Yorkers. Even in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, black and Latino New Yorkers face the disproportionate brunt. For example, in 2011, Black and Latino New Yorkers made up 24 percent of the population in Park Slope, but 79 percent of stops.
In a November poll, a majority of New Yorkers expressed their opposition to the program. According to CapitalNewYork:
New Yorkers strongly support the performance of police commissioner Ray Kelly (68-23) and that of the NYPD as a whole (62-31), but they sharply oppose stop-and-frisk tactics (by 53-42)…
Dig deeper into the stop-and-frisk question, and the numbers are even more telling: Democrats oppose the practice by 62-33, black voters by 70-28, and Hispanic voters by 64-33.
While Christine Quinn remains only verbally and occasionally opposed to Stop and Frisk, other Democratic candidates for mayor have stepped up more forcefully to express their opposition to the program. John Liu, a leading candidate who once represented District 20 in Queens for several years, has promised to end the program. In May, another front-runner, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio began a heated campaign to reform and reduce New York City’s use of Stop and Frisk.