Days after President Barack Obama in his Trayvon Martin speech suggested law enforcement officials review how some existing policies may lead to more racial profiling and tensions, New York’s mayor and police commissioner offered their own response: they intend to reinforce the discriminatory practice.
This is part of what Obama said on July 19: “Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
“When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.”
On the other hand, Mayor Michael Bloomberg today vetoed the Community Safety Act, a new law passed by the New York City Council to curb rampant racial profiling by the New York Police Department (NYPD). Last year officers Stopped-and-Frisked almost 600,000 New Yorkers.
Of those stopped 90% were African American and Latino. Only in one-out-of-10 cases are any illegal weapons or substances found. Yet, Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly insist the policy doesn’t amount to racial profiling. What’s more since most victims of crimes in New York City — and perpetrators — are Black, the 90% innocent Black and Latino people stopped should still be grateful anyway.
Commissioner Kelly has the audacity to defend Stop-and-Frisk with an absurd argument in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed today, 10 days after the acquittal of George Zimmerman. The self-appointed “neighborhood watchman” used the Bloomberg/Kelly policing approach and racially profiled Trayvon Martin?
How? According to Zimmerman himself “the fucking punks” who committed burglaries in his neighborhood always got away. And these “fucking punks” were Black; and looked like Trayvon Martin. If Zimmerman hadn’t racially profiled Martin the teenager would be alive today.
Ray Kelly’s deceptive and disingenuous Wall Street Journal column is headlined “The NYPD: Guilty Of Saving 7,383 Lives.” His arguments are unintelligent and can be quickly demolished.
1. Ray Kelly opens by declaring: “Since 2002, the New York Police Department has taken tens of thousands of weapons off the streets through proactive policing strategy.”
Kelly doesn’t tell The Wall Street Journal’s readers that these “proactive policing strategies” that succeeded in removing tens of thousands of weapons from the streets did not include the racist Stop-and-Frisk regime. Kelly doesn’t bring up some inconvenient statistics which he is aware of: they formed the basis of the recently concluded trial, Floyd v. New York City. Those numbers show that in 9 out of 10 stops, not a single illegal weapon or drug was found. This means that Stop-and-Frisk had nothing to do with the number of weapons seized. The City is a defendant in the Floyd case so Kelly’s aware of those numbers.
2. Kelly then says in the 11 years that Bloomberg became mayor, there have been 7,383 fewer murders in New York City. The implication here, again through deception, is that these reduced death rates were because more weapons were seized through Stop-and-Frisk.
But we’ve already shown that Stop-and-Frisk doesn’t lead to the seizing of significant quantities of weapons. Commissioner Kelly is trying to fool the masses, including the “elite” ones who read The Wall Street Journal.
Clearly the reduced deaths, which every New Yorker must welcome, were due to many other factors, but not the racist Stop-and-Frisk regime that targets Black and Latino males for arbitrary stops and searches. Factors that resulted in the reduced incidence of murders include: significant reduction in the crack epidemic and the related crack-related violence; and, an increase in community policing around the country as a result of the billions of dollars made available under the Clinton administration. The infusion help set a national trend in the decline of crime generally.
3. Now here’s the most deceptive and outrageous claim Kelly makes in his desperate attempt to justify the discriminatory Stop-and-Frisk regime. He writes that “the race of those stopped highly correlates to descriptions provided by victims or witnesses to crime.” Here, Kelly fails to mention that in hundreds of thousands of cases the stops are correlated with no crime at all meaning there could not have been any descriptions or witnesses. Last year alone there were almost 600,000 Stop-and-Frisks. There were nowhere close to 600,000 reports or witnessing of crimes, even though that’s the impression that Kelly wants to leave with the reader.
“We stop and question individuals about whom we have reasonable suspicion,” Commissioner Kelly writes. Yes, 600,000 of them? They were stopped simply because they were Black -skinned or Brown -skinned. In 90% of the nearly 600,000 stops the Black or Latino male had done nothing wrong.
4. “Racial profiling is a disingenuous charge at best and an incendiary one at worst, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin,” Kelly writes, when in fact racial profiling is exactly what led to Martin’s death. In New York City, several Black males also ended up dead after they were racially profiled before being engaged by the police, including: Amadou Diallo; Ousmane Zongo; Sean Bell; Patrick Dorismond; and, Ramarley Graham.
“It’s understandable that someone who has done nothing wrong will be angry if he is stopped,” Kelly writes. For the parents of Diallo, Zongo, Bell, Dorismond, Graham –and to these victims — their deaths are more than a minor inconvenience.
Ray Kelly claims criticizing Stop-and-Frisk as racial profiling “is to obscure the rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation underpinning the police department’s tactics and the painstaking analysis that determines how we employ them.” How painstaking could it be, for Kelly and his Department, to approach and stop 600,000 people; practically picking out any Black or Latino male?
Kelly’s Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal is anchored by fallacies and deceptions. Once stripped of all the spin, Stop-and-Frisk is exposed for what it truly is — a discriminatory police strategy that intentionally targets Black and Latinos for unlawful stops and detention.
We can’t have a standard of policing for Whites and another for Blacks and Latinos. Hopefully the judge who presided over Floyd v. New York will soon arrive at the same conclusion and rule accordingly.