NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, 1199 SEIU President George Gresham and the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action network joined civil rights leaders, faith leaders and elected officials today in Lower Manhattan to announce a “Silent March to End Stop-and-Frisk.” The march, to be held on Father’s Day, June 17, will protest the discriminatory, humiliating and ineffective NYPD stop-and-frisk policy that targets hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers each year.
"Stop-and-frisk is the most massive local racial profiling program in the country," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "Stop-and-frisk sews racial division, distracts law enforcement, and needlessly humiliates hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and their families every year. It must be stopped.”
The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy allows officials to stop and pat down any individual without cause or suspicion. Black and Latino New Yorkers are six times as likely as whites to be stopped, and the vast majority of those frisked are innocent. In 2011 alone, the NYPD stopped and questioned more than 685,000 New Yorkers. Of those, 605,000 walked away with no charges.
"Stop-and-frisk poses a real danger to our children and communities," said George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "The NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy has led to rampant racial profiling and the people of New York City must not stand for it. For the safety of all our children, we must speak out against this unjust policy. This is an issue for all people of color and all people of conscience."
The tradition of silent marches for civil rights dates back to 1917, when the NAACP held the nation’s first silent march in New York City to protest lynchings, segregation and race riots in the South. That march, led by W. E. B. DuBois, led thousands silently down Fifth Avenue, and became an iconic symbol of strength in the face of injustice.
"Stop-and-frisk is racial profiling and a complete violation of civil rights,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network.” We need to fight crime but we do not need a civil rights violation to fight it."
Racial profiling is a concern for New Yorkers of every background because it is discriminatory and does not keep our neighborhoods safe. The murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida has underscored the tragic consequences of racial profiling. Here in New York, the killing of unarmed teenager Ramarley Graham in February shows that little has changed since the shootings of Patrick Dorismond, Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell.
“The NYPD’s own data undermine many of the Bloomberg administration’s justifications for the stop-and-frisk program,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner’s assertions, the massive spike in the number of stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded the ability of fathers and sons from communities of color to trust and respect the police.”
City officials have repeatedly claimed that stop-and-frisk keeps guns off the street. But the NYCLU's analysis found that the proportion of gun seizures to stops has fallen dramatically as only 780 guns were confiscated last year. This is only slightly more than the 604 guns seized in 2003, when officers made only 160,851 stops.
"We of the Muslim community are grateful for the opportunity to join with the NAACP, 1199 SEIU, National Action Network, the United National Anti-War Coalition, and other activists and community leaders in a unified stance for law enforcement accountability, and against racial, ethnic and religious profiling,” said Imam Al- Hajj Talib Abdur Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York.
"The Jewish tradition teaches of the rodef, the pursuer, and teaches that one must intervene if they witness inequality, ‘lo tamod al dam reaha.’ You are instructed to pursue justice and peace," said Louis Cholden-Brown of the Jewish Theological Seminary. "I am here today to say in a loud and clear voice: Stop-and-frisk does not stop crime; stop and frisk is a crime."
"As Transgender women we are constantly stopped and frisked just because of they way we express our gender identity, and because they presume we are engaging in sex work, when often times we are just going to the corner store to buy milk or something for the house," said Jessica Guaman from the LGBTQ Justice Project of Make the Road NY. "And if they find condoms in our bags, this is automatically considered proof of prostitution. These practices hurt our communities, and our trust with the police. They have to stop."
"We need to make sure that Trayvon Martin's death not be in vain," said Hector Figueroa, secretary and treasurer of SEIU Local 32BJ. "The lessons learned from this horrific incident require us to fight to ensure that no one, including our young people, across the city ever feel targeted because of the color of their skin."
For more information, please visit www.silentmarchnyc.org.