BY REVEREND SAMUEL CRUZ
Earlier this month, those of us who believe in dignity and respect for all human beings experienced a victory with the ruling by federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin against the brutal and dehumanizing policy of the Bloomberg administration and NYPD known as “Stop and Frisk.”
The data clearly shows that this policy does not work to reduce crime – 90 percent of those stopped and humiliated are not even given a summons, because they are found to have committed no crimes, and the other 10 percent overwhelmingly have not committed any serious offenses.
In fact, one percent of blacks have been found with weapons and 1.4 percent of whites have been found with weapons as a result of being stopped and frisked. However, over 80 percent of those stopped have been black and Latino young people. Racial profiling is written all over this policy.
It is sad and shameful that Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly continue to defend this policy as a good policing strategy, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
They do not seem to care that people of color have to work harder in our society to prove that they are good, law-abiding citizens and that it destroys the self-esteem and spirit when you are suspected, stopped, manhandled and treated with hostility, for no other reason than being Latino/a or black.
How can young men and women of color be expected to do well and succeed if it is the institutional policy of our city to tell them that they are always being suspected of being criminals?
Can you imagine growing up in a family that suspects you of being a bad person throughout your life? The emotional, psychological and spiritual damage would be incalculable. That is what has been happening to our children in this city over the last decade.
The Bloomberg administration and the NYPD have been treating black and Latino young people as criminals with no good reason or “probable cause.” This is called racial profiling.
After last week’s victory, we need assurance that the New York City Council will override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the “Community Safety Act,” which will end racial profiling as a policy and provide independent monitoring of the NYPD.
I am proud to stand with Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) to demand the passage of the Community Safety Act. We must all rally together and urge councilmembers to stay true to their constituents and vote to end draconian policies like racial profiling that dehumanize and break the spirit of so many young people.
Reverend Samuel Cruz is senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church.