There’s Still Work To Be Done
The story of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin is now well known across America. While segregation has been abolished for over half a century, Martin’s case proves that racism is still a relevant issue in modern America.
All across the country, racial crimes continue to pervade communities in spite of our self-proclaimed virtue of equality for all. Every community in the country is guilty of this, and New York City is certainly no exception.
In New York, just as in most other cities, the police reserve the right to stop individuals on the street based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The intention of “stop-and-frisk” is to impede or discourage crime by increasing the chances of criminals being caught on the street.
However, the problem is that “stop-and-frisk” has had a minimal yield of actually finding any weapons or contraband, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights and backed up by over 10 years of raw data from the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
In 2011 alone, over 684,000 people were stopped, 87 percent of whom were black or Latino residents, even though they only make up 23 and 29 percent of the entire city population respectively. Furthermore, “stop-and-frisk” takes place more commonly in neighborhoods that are predominantly made up of people of color, and force is frequently used.
A report published by the Center for Constitutional Rights on NYPD “stop-and-frisk” statistics from 2009 and 2010 shows that force was used in 25 percent of stops involving black and Latino citizens, compared with only 18 percent of stops involving white citizens.
The NYPD’s use of “stop-and-frisk” as a measure to help curb criminal activity has been on the rise since 2005, yet startlingly only 2.6 percent of stops between 2005 and 2008 yielded the discovery of a weapon or contraband. Even more disturbing, stops of whites proved to be slightly more likely to yield contraband than stops of blacks or Latinos, and the proportion of “stop-and-frisks” by race does not correspond with the rates of arrests or summons.
The NYPD continues to insist that stop-and-frisks are helping reduce the number of weapons on the street, yet its own statistics do not support this claim. Although it has been suggested numerous times that a different tactic be used to help reduce street violence, the NYPD remains stubborn and insists that “stop-and-frisk” is clearly the best way to prevent street violence.
In light of Trayvon Martin’s death, it is clear that police nationwide participate in racial profiling in spite of the lack of supporting statistics indicating any real effect on discouraging criminal activity. His death has brought the issue to light, capturing the passions of Americans nationwide in a new surge for racial equality and justice.