Consider this scenario: A dark-skinned teen walks down one of Manhattan's many busy streets, hands stuffed in the pockets of his hoodie. He turns a corner and encounters a police officer. The officer does not have a warrant, and the teen does not fit the description of any known assailant.
Should the officer have the right to stop and search him?
No, according to Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, who ruled Monday that the heavily-debated police tactic known as stop-and-frisk, which has affected more than four million people since it was implemented in 2002, violates suspects' constitutional rights.
“While it is true that any one stop is a limited intrusion in duration and deprivation of liberty,“ Scheindlin wrote, “Each stop is also a demeaning and humiliating experience. No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life.”
Scheindlin cited the stop-and-frisk program’s track record of targeting blacks and Hispanics at rates disproportionate to their populations, calling the practice "indirect racial profiling.” According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 80% of the suspects stopped and frisked in 2012 and 2013 were black or hispanic. Nine times out of ten, the suspect was not arrested or charged with a crime.
Supporters of stop-and-frisk, however, say the tactic is necessary to uphold public safety. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg credited the practice with the city’s record-low crime rates, saying that the judge’s decision would make it “a more dangerous place.”
In the decade since stop-and-frisk was first introduced, it has been praised or vilified by just about everyone with a microphone or an internet connection. In the wake of the new ruling, Youth Radio has assembled our top 5 Stop-and-Frisk videos:
1. Best Youth Perspective: “Stop and Frisk: The High School Student” by WhereIamGoing.org
In this video, also featured above, High School Senior Kasiem Walters talks about how being stopped and frisked frequently by police (he has been stopped seven times -- the first time when he was 13) has affected him and his community in East Flatbush. “You should feel safer when you see a cop,” he says. “You shouldn’t feel like you’re a target. We should feel like citizens of New York and not criminals.”
Walters also did an interview with Youth Radio's Joshua Clayton about how stop-and-frisk inspired him to learn his rights. Check it out here.
2. Best Youth Report: “Vertical Patrols” by Radio Rookies
This audio slideshow takes us along with a young reporter as she talks to multiple stakeholders about stop-and-frisk tactics near a public housing project in the Bronx. We hear from local youths about their experiences being stopped by police, residents who see stop-and-frisk as a necessary for the safety of their neighborhoods, and legal experts who discuss the broader implications of the policy in the community.
3. Best Secret Recording: “The Hunted and The Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Policy” by The Nation
In this 13-minute-long video we’re introduced to 17-year-old Alvin, a Harlem resident, who recorded his experience being stopped and frisked by police. During the interaction, he’s called a “mutt,” thrown against a wall, and threatened by a Sergeant. In the video, veteran police officers explain an atmosphere in their departments around the practice, including pressure to meet quotas even if it means stopping innocent people. They also admit that some officers intentionally provoke people who they stop so that they can arrest them. But despite these criticisms, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in the video that the practice is working and that he has heard that residents want more police in their neighborhoods.
4. Best Panel Discussion about Race: “The R Word” by The Daily Show
In this segment of the Daily Show, correspondents Jessica Williams (black) and Samantha Bee (white) sit down with groups of the opposite race to talk about race, specifically if racism still exists in the United States and to what extent. Towards the end of the clip [3:24] the topic of stop-and-frisk comes up. Four out of the five members of the black group claim they have been stopped and frisked (the one who hadn’t been says she just moved to New York City.) One out of the five members of the white group said she have been stopped and frisked... at the airport.
5. Best Comically Biased Interview: “Ever Been Frisked By the Cops?” by W. Kamau Bell
On the lighter side of stop-and-frisk responses, W. Kamau Bell decided to hit the streets of New York City to find out if any of the residents had ever been frisked by police and what would make the practice OK for them. Some suggestions included finer-looking cops, a free subway sandwich after your sixth frisk, or changing the name to something more appropriate like “getting totally f****ed.”
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