Monday, July 12, 2010

Young & Black? Expect to be "Stopped & Frisked" if not killed by police

Below are excerpts taken from today’s NYTimes about the rampant “stop and frisk” policy where each year now the NY Police Department stops and frisks over half a million people – the majority of them for reasons such as “furtive movements.”  This article features the most targeted area where the average young Black man (starting at the age of 15!) is stopped on average FIVE TIMES A YEAR!

Throw this in the mix of the recent slap on the wrist given just days ago to the cop who executed Oscar Grant in front of a crowd hundreds and viewed by millions on youtube. 

I don’t want to hear any more talk about how this is a “post-racial” society.  Walking around young and Black still means two things.  First, you are a suspect.  Second, you are a target of police all the way up to and frequently including police murder.

The time is now to be exposing and resisting these outrages, and to be building up the strength to put an end to this madness through real, genuine communist revolution at the soonest possible time.  Nothing can excuse what you are about to read below.

“The officers stop people they think might be carrying guns; they stop and question people who merely enter the public housing project buildings without a key; they ask for identification from, and run warrant checks on, young people halted for riding bicycles on the sidewalk. 

“One night, 20 officers surrounded a man outside the Brownsville Houses after he would not let an officer smell the contents of his orange juice container.

“Between January 2006 and March 2010, the police made nearly 52,000 stops on these blocks and in these buildings, according to a New York Times analysis of data provided by the Police Department and two organizations, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In each of those encounters, officers logged the names of those stopped — whether they were arrested or not — into a police database that the police say is valuable in helping solve future crimes.

“These encounters amounted to nearly one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 residents of these blocks. In some instances, people were stopped because the police said they fit the description of a suspect. But the data show that fewer than 9 percent of stops were made based on ‘fit description.’ Far more — nearly 26,000 times — the police listed either ‘furtive movement,’ a catch-all category that critics say can mean anything, or ‘other’ as the only reason for the stop. Many of the stops, the data show, were driven by the police’s ability to enforce seemingly minor violations of rules governing who can come and go in the city’s public housing.”

Skipping ahead in the article…

“And some, from academics to the residents of these streets in Brooklyn, believe the stops could have a corrosive effect, alienating young and old alike in a community that has long had a tenuous relationship with the police.

“’This is an important issue, right now, that the N.Y.P.D. must get out in front of as soon as they can,’ said Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. ‘And the best way they can do that is to provide credible evidence that the stop-and-frisk campaign actually is responsible for the crime reductions the city has enjoyed.’

“Without that evidence, he said, the stop-and-frisks that do not result in arrests could ‘reduce the perceived legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public.’”

Okay, that above quote is very revealing – basically this guy is pointing out that this practice of “stop and frisk” that is disproportionately targeting and terrorizing Black people so blatantly violates what most people consider decent and legitimate (even according to the proclaimed principles of the U.S. constitution and laws), that if they don’t cook up some kind of PR rational for this they could undermine the legitimacy of the very armed force and terror their system relies on to function.

Everyone who is sincere, needs to come to grips with the fact that the outrage of police violence and terror against Black people in this country is so widespread, so pervasive, so dehumanizing and degrading to Black people as a whole that IT ALONE is reason enough for revolution.  Further, everyone interested in revolution ought not to fail to see how significant and strategic a potential vulnerability this kind of ongoing police terror is to the legitimacy of this entire system.  There is tremendous potential to bring forward – through fighting the power and transforming the people FOR REVOLUTION – an alternate legitimate vision, authority, and specter of a radically different society, a revolutionary society, that can put an end to this madness and attract many people into this today.

The article continues later…

“Inside the project buildings and out, males 15 to 34 years of age, who make up about 11 percent of the area’s population, accounted for 68 percent of the stops over the years. That amounted to about five stops a year each, though it was impossible to tell how often someone was stopped or if that person lived in the neighborhood, because the data did not include the names or addresses of those stopped. Police officials say the age figures sound right, since most crime suspects fit that description.

“Young black men get stopped so often that a few years ago, Gus Cyrus, coach of the football team at nearby Thomas Jefferson High School, started letting his players leave practice with their bright orange helmets so the police would not confuse them with gang members.
“’My players were always calling me saying “Coach, the police have me,”‘ Mr. Cyrus said.”

Just think what that means – that the football coach had to let his players borrow bright orange helmets so that they would have a higher chance of not being stopped and harassed and humiliated and possibly beaten or killed by police!  In his epic talk, “Revolution: Why Its Necessary; Why Its Possible; What Its All About,” Bob Avakian talks about how it is doubtful that any young Black man grows up in an inner city without being traumatized by the fear of being brutalized or killed by police.  This story from this coach just captures one small dimension of that – but it speaks volumes.

By the way, there is an additional irony in that little excerpt in that the name of the high school is “Thomas Jefferson High School.”  Jeffersonian democracy is supposedly what makes this country so free and guarantees all people equal rights and protections under the law.  But, in reality in its original conception – and as it is clearly functioning today – it has white supremacy woven into its very fabric.  At the time of Jefferson, this took the form of outright slavery.  Today, there is – among many other things – the situation that is described in this article from the NYTimes.

“Almost everyone in the projects has a story. There is Jonathan Guity, a 26-year-old legal assistant with no criminal record, who, when asked how many times he had been stopped in the neighborhood where he grew up, said, ‘Honestly, I’d say 30 to 40 times. I’m serious.’”

“One recent evening, the police stopped a 19-year-old man for spitting on the sidewalk, a health code violation, and entering Langston Hughes Apartments without using a key or being buzzed in, even though the doors were unlocked. ‘I’ve lived here for 19 years,’ the young man, who lived in a neighboring building, protested. ‘You see me coming into these buildings every day, and now you’re going to stop me.’”

If you can stomach all this, you have a serious problem.  If you cannot, its time to get more serious about the real revolution.

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posted by Sunsara Taylor at 4:44 PM


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