To be safer in the streets, and to have more pride in our communities that means, for many black and latino men, that Stop and Frisk tactics must end.
Before I was married I lived in a small brownstone occupying the basement apartment. Most of the time that I lived there I was employed by sheer force of will so that I could maintain my standard of living, pay my bills, and avoid the indignity of having to stay on my mother’s couch. I was technically unemployed but spent the majority of the days I did not have work dressed up in a suit, pounding the pavement of New York CIty and attending talks, symposiums, meetings, you name it and I was there. I was determined to never lose momentum.
Inexplicably, I have been stopped by police numerous times in my 35 years. When I was 15 was the first time and I understood it as a “rite of passage” as all the elders around me confessed that police had done the same to them many times. The message was interred into my bones; I was a threat and the policing apparatus of the government I pay taxes to maintain was now aware that I had reached the age (15) of becoming a threat. The most recent incident came during my unemployed but busy period. I returned home from pounding the pavement and an unmarked police car pulled up suddenly, and all white cops hopped out and proceeded to “stop and frisk” me.
No, I was not smoking or drinking. I was not with anyone. It was just me, on the corner of Halsey and Ralph being forced to answer random questions. I was suspected of something because I was in my neighborhood, less than a block from my modest apartment, and because, I suspect, I was black. I do not care who you are or who you think you are and whatever your perceptions of crime and punishment may or not be but this practice of stop and frisking mostly blacks and latinos while ignoring the hipster white kids is just exhausting. It’s tiring. Instead of being happy to see police I am suspicious of police. What is their motive and is our society less safe when a large segment are treated and feel as though they are “threats”?
I am trying to think rationally about this. These police get orders and follow them. They go home to spouses and children. They are decent human beings, right? If I can see their decency beyond the badge, why can’t they see mine past the color of my skin or where I live?
Either start randomly frisking everyone or look for criminals when the evidence is clear that someone has done a crime.