"Today, we are going from dating on occasion to a marriage."
Displaying his trademark skill at artful turns of phrase, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to the dramatic significance of a June 5 press conference at the Stonewall Inn that brought together leaders of dozens of local and national LGBT groups and the organizers of a June 17 Manhattan march to protest the NYPD's stop and frisk policies that affect people of color in starkly disproportionate numbers.
The End Stop and Frisk Silent March Against Racial Profiling is planned for Father's Day, and its lead organizers include Sharpton's National Action Network, the NAACP, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Federation of Teachers, and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Last year, the NYPD made nearly 685,000 stop-and-frisks, up from less than 100,000 in 2002. Police department data demonstrate the sharp racial and ethnic disparities in the use of the tactic -- with 53 percent of them involving African Americans and 34 percent, Latinos.
On June 5, most of the big names in LGBT advocacy -- the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), Lambda Legal, the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Family Equality Council, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Marriage Equality USA, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) among them -- stepped up in solidarity.
Terming the police's stop and frisk policy "a process that is simply broken and that, if not fixed, will only cause further division," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian Chelsea Democrat expected to seek the mayoralty next year, said, "The key to our safety as a city is a positive connection between the police and the community."
The nearly 700,000 stops, she noted, are not distributed evenly across the city's neighborhoods or eight million residents but rather "concentrated in particular subsets of New Yorkers."