Sunday, April 1, 2012
Niggas Who Ain't in Paris
In New York City plenty of Black and Latino young men are aware that life is not all cheer like a 30 Rock episode or a Frank Sinatra song. To these young men “the city that never sleeps” is comparable to the classic HBO series The Wire. NYC urban communities are a meeting point for drugs,violence, poverty and law enforcement. Police officers are a unique piece to urban neighborhoods of NYC. The men and woman, who risk their lives everyday,provide a needed presence to deal with the high crime in urban areas.Conversely, these sworn upholders of the law are seen as enemies by those who are not harden criminals or even have a record at all.
NewYorkers are aware that stop and frisk is a controversial policy utilized by the NYPD as a way to address gun violence. While good in moral principle, stop and frisk policies have had an adverse affect on law abiding young men who are vulnerable to harassment from the “boys in blue”. Imagine walking home from along day of work and school, when a vehicle that has been tailing you suddenlypulls up beside you. Two plain clothes officers get out with their hands on their guns, telling you to stop. You immediately know what going to happen,this scenario has been ingrained in your psyche. You’ve seen other young men in your neighborhood get stopped and all you did was walk by and shake your head,now it’s your turn to be looked at. The officers then approach and pat you down like you're going thru airport security. Asking if you have any weapons and giving you attitude when you ask the reason you are being stopped. The officers then ask you for your ID and what are you doing in the neighborhood almost simultaneously as if they want to confuse you. You begin to feel nervous because you’re aware of situations between minority men and the NYPD that took a bad turn after the wrong interpretation of movements. So you reach in your pockets easy to retrieve your identification. After looking over your ID and finding nothing on you, the cops leave asfast as they come without saying “goodnight”. Where is that courtesy from the NYPD that's painted on patrol cars? Those cops probably didn’t get the memo. It’s as if you’re wrong for not having a gun or a bag of weed on you. You’re standing there unsure of what your next move should be; there is a feeling of hopelessness and anger fuming inside of you. The hopelessness comes from thefact that you’re a target for profiling and harassment by the cops when you haven't committed a crime. As a minority person you have to develop a sixth sense walking through your own neighborhood to avoid harassment by officers maintaining a department quota. The anger comes from feeling disrespected and like a second class citizen. Statistics showsthat these stop and frisk tactics don’t happen in affluent neighborhoods and target minorities. In 2011, the NYPD reported a total of 684,300 stops, eighty seven of those stops were of Blacks or Latinos and nine out of ten people stopped were not arrested.
I'm not Jumaane Williams, Professor Cornell West or Al Sharpton. I’m a New Yorker who is 25, Black and had my own “highlights” in the stop and frisk game. I believe in finding positive energy,advocacy and dialogue among young minority males to change stop and frisk. I’ve never read George Orwell’s 1984 but I do believe I’m getting a synopsis by the NYPD, Muslims are getting spied on by the police, a few months back Commissioner Kelly stated that the NYPD has the capability to bring down a plane if necessary and cops breaking down doors without warrants leading to the killing of an unarmed teenager in his home. Scattered protests throughout thecity won’t bring about change to the stop and frisk policy, only consistent efforts by community members will nudge politicians to take positions on this issue. Waiting for legislation to pass won’t be as effective as a grassroots movement.
I'm not trying to downplay the gun violence that goes on in urban communities of NYC. I readily admit that there are individuals who do not value human life and make stop and frisk appear appealing to the lay public. However,over the summer of 2011, several cops were charged with gun smuggling. Why aren't other officers being monitored and harassed on a daily basis to stop thegun violence. Is it possible that other officers are successfully smuggling guns into urban communities? To date only one officer has been convicted of any wrong doing in this case.
Officers who are wounded or killed in the line of duty are called heroes for their bravery and commitment to service. The mayor and police commissioner bend over backwards for television time and the“sea of blue” comes out to pay respects to their fallen brother. When minority men get stopped and frisked we (collectively speaking) don’t get a chance to have a beer with the president and the harassing officer or a press conference about how we felt after. There is either an arrest or a “better luck next time,go about your business” vibe from the police. A while back I read an opinion article in the New York Times titled “Why is the N.Y.P.D after me?” In thearticle a young man explained the experience of plenty minority men in New York. After readingthe article I felt envious that I wasn't the one telling my stories of harassment in the opinion section of the New York Times. Those feelings gaveway to the realization that this young man was only sharing similar experiences and I was mad at the fact that I was not the only one affected by stop and frisk. I had to respect his contribution and attack the issue from my perspective. I know I'm doing the right thing byspeaking out on this issue because I've been stop and frisked plenty of times by disrespectful police that made me resent the NYPD. Hopefully other minority men in New York City will continue the dialogue about ending stop and frisk, through newspapers,social media and community activism. Spring has begun and millions of NewYorkers will be enjoying the beautiful weather in the city that never sleeps.My only hope is that everyone can be treated equally by the NYPD.