Close to 1,000 members and supporters of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) joined thousands of other New Yorkers in the Father’s Day Silent March down Fifth Avenue to call for an end to racial profiling and stop-and-frisk abuses by the NYPD. The CPR contingent spanned over two blocks as we marched down Fifth Avenue, with members from throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
Our contingent included many community members who have been directly affected by the NYPD’s discriminatory and unlawful stop-and-frisk abuses, as well as advocates, lawyers, academics, community organizers, and families spanning three generations.
The silence as we proceeded down Fifth Avenue underscored the seriousness of the current crisis situation of discriminatory policing in New York City.
Following the march, CPR will continue to educate New Yorkers about their rights, the full extent and impact of the NYPD’s discriminatory and abusive policing practices, and ways that New Yorkers can take action -including organizing within affected communities to hold the NYPD accountable to all New Yorkers, and supporting the passage of the Community Safety Act in the City Council.
Photos accompanying this article are by sabelo narasimhan and Yeong Ran Kim. To use and publish sabelo’s photos elsewhere, please stillsabelo [at] gmail [dot] com (subject: Using%20your%20photos%20from%20the%20Fathers%20Day%20Stop-and-Frisk%20March) (contact sabelo).
Following is the press release from the Silent March convenors.
Civil Rights and Community Leaders Hold Silent March on Father's Day to End NYC "Stop-and-Frisk" Abuse
June 17, 2012 - Tens of thousands of civil and human right advocates and outraged community members marched today in silent solidarity down Fifth Avenue in New York City to bring attention to the racial profiling and to protest the city's abusive and discriminatory stop-and-frisk policing practice.
"Stop-and-frisk is a concern for all communities in the City as the young men who are targeted are our sons, brothers, nephews, future fathers and community leaders," said George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "That's why this diverse mobilization of civil rights, faith, labor and community groups marched today in silent protest of this failed policy. New Yorkers of all backgrounds are sending a strong message that racial profiling endangers our children and the safety of our communities as whole."
"Today we are marching in silence to call for an end to racial profiling," stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "Stop-and-frisk is the most massive local racial profiling program in the country. All children, of every color, should feel protected by our police, not threatened, harassed or intimidated. Stop-and-frisk is a violation of NYPD policy, our constitution and the basic values of liberty and justice for all."
"Stop-and-frisk policing violates our civil rights as citizens, humiliates our personhood, violates racial profiling laws, and violates our constitutional right to probable cause," stated Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network. "Therefore it is illegal, immoral, and must be ended. You cannot mend bias. You must end bias."
Convened by the National Action Network (NAN), 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the NAACP, the silent march was endorsed and supported by hundreds of rights advocates including the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), and community organizations from across New York City.
"Protecting the safety of all New Yorkers and reducing crime in all parts of our city does not require turning any neighborhood or any block into a Constitution-free zone," said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner's assertions, the NYPD's stop-and-frisk regime has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has corroded the ability of communities of color to trust and respect the police."
"As educators, our members know that racial profiling has a profound impact on a student's ability to come to school ready to learn and receive the support they need to succeed in life," stated National Education Association (NEA) Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle. "NEA members are committed to stopping the injustices of 'Stop-and-Frisk' and other policies that keep public school students from receiving a quality education and realizing their full potential."
"Inequity in the law, racial profiling and generally treating people unequally creates disgraceful policies like stop-and-frisk," stated Cathy Marino-Thomas, Co-President, Marriage Equality USA. "It's time to treat people with equality and respect."
"I am proud and honored to march in solidarity with a historic coalition of civil rights leaders, labor unions, gay and lesbian groups, and thousands of Americans of every background to demand an end to racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies that unfairly and unreasonably target innocent Americans," stated American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten. "We have an obligation to protect our communities and our children. But we can create safe communities without resorting to racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies. All Americans deserve to be able to go about innocent, everyday activities without fear of being targeted and profiled based on the color of their skin."
Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman stated, "In reality stop-and-frisk may simply terrify and criminalize Black and Brown boys and young men and empower police to randomly stop, search, and demand account from black and Latino boys and men ostensibly born free. The reality in New York City today shows we are still far from being a free and just land."
"We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New York City fighting to end that city's 'Stop & Frisk' policy, which overwhelmingly and unfairly impacts African American residents and other residents of color," stated Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change. "America must hold true to its principles of civil liberty and equal protection under the law and we must all reject racial profiling in all its forms."
"The discriminatory policing that certain communities in our city have had to endure is unacceptable by any standard," said Joo-Hyun Kang, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. "Today's march is about New Yorkers of all backgrounds coming together to demand an end to the NYPD's racial profiling and massive expansion of stop-and-frisk abuses, and to hold our elected officials accountable for ensuring that all New Yorkers are treated with dignity and respect."
"On Father's Day, Arab and Muslim Americans marched in solidarity with people from across New York City to demand an end to discriminatory police practices of the NYPD," said Linda Sarsour, National Advocacy Director for the National Network for Arab American Communities. "We have seized the moment to unite against the stop-and-frisk of blacks and Latinos and the warrantless surveillance of Muslim Americans. The people united will never be defeated."
"Stop-and-frisk is a misguided policy that targets the most vulnerable segment of our society: Young men of color," said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDE. It doesn't do what it's supposed to do, it doesn't do what they say it does and it must end quickly."
"The NYPD's practices of stop-and-frisk, like the surveillance of American Muslims, have led to a breakdown in trust between the police and law-abiding Asian American communities," stated Margaret Fung, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "The NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices must not be used to intimidate Asian American and other immigrant communities."
"Too many people have been victimized and harmed by the stop-and-frisk policy," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). "The growing campaign against stop-and-frisk is a labor movement fight, a civil rights fight, a LGBT fight--a fight that unites all of us as we march together in record numbers for justice and equality,"
"Racial profiling should not be the acceptable rite of passage for our children and we are committed to stand up against this legacy of injustice that is now being endured by a new generation," said Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn's oldest Latino community-based organization.
"Immigrant communities are living under a climate of fear as a result of the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk and its surveillance practices, which are too often driven by racial and ethnic profiling," said Ms. Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "And with the activation of Secure Communities in New York City, the consequences of unlawful stops by police include deportation and the heartbreaking separation of immigrant families. Whether these practices play out in the name of public safety, immigration enforcement or counterterrorism efforts, they are ineffective and unjust. To truly protect public safety and national security, the NYPD must have the trust of all communities."
"Stop-and-frisk resembles policing under the Apartheid regime in South Africa when police could stop and search any Black man," said Milton Allimadi, Publisher of the Black Star News. "Every citizen regarding of their race, ethnicity or income level should entitled to equal protection of the constitution of the United States."
"The African American and Latino communities will no longer tolerate the NYPD treating our young members as guilty until proven innocent," said New York Communities for Change member Marie Pierre. "When 90% of people stopped are innocent, the NYPD can no longer claim this policy is about protecting our communities."
Men of All Colors Together/New York Co-Chair Tom Wirth stated, "The "Stop-and-Frisk" Policy has turned New York City into a totalitarian state for men of color, especially youth. ALL members of Men of All Colors Together/New York, including those who are not people of color, deplore this outrageous policy and demand that it be ended."
"The NYPD' stop-and-frisk abuses and other discriminatory practices such as spying on Muslim communities exemplify racial and religious profiling at its worst," stated Debbie Almontaser, Board Chair of the Muslim Consultative Network. "The targeting of low-income communities of color and immigrants throughout New York City is undermining public safety and public trust. MCN stands with its brothers and sisters to reclaim the respect and dignity our communities deserve under the US Constitution!"
"The Japanese American Citizens League, which represents the victims of unlawful incarceration during World War II, opposes New York's use of police powers to arbitrarily violate the rights of citizens," stated Priscilla Ouchida, the organization's National Executive Director. "A government policy that targets citizens based upon their racial characteristics does not belong in a free society."
Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren stated, "For over a decade, the Center for Constitutional Rights has challenged the NYPD's practices unconstitutional stops and frisks through litigation and advocacy work. We are proud to join together with others on Father's Day to demand an end to stop-and-frisk abuses and for meaningful accountability, transparency and oversight of the NYPD."
"The ethnically diverse Muslim community of New York City, nearly a million people in number, stand in solidarity with the NAACP, National Action Network, 1199SEIU, and all other organizations and faith communities of conscience, in opposition to all forms of racial and religious profiling," stated Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid of the Majlis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan New York. "We thank God we are able to participate in this march."
"This is a policy that needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of innocent people and creates tension and mistrust in our communities. We are deeply concerned with the dramatic rise in stop-and-frisks that disproportionately affect young black and Latino men," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the NYC Central Labor Council.
"Today, the LGBT community, people of color, and organized labor march in solidarity and silence against Stop-and-Frisk, a policy that for too long has silenced countless New Yorkers with humiliation," stated Michael Mallon, President, Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ). "May our deafening silence serve as a first step toward ending this ineffective and demeaning practice."
"The misguided policy regarding Stop-and-Frisk has been disrupting neighborhoods, and hurting the vital relationship between communities and the NYPD for too long," stated Yetta Kurland, civil rights attorney and member of the National Lawyers Guild. "It hurts our communities and the NYPD and it has to stop. This practice has disproportionately impacted communities of color and the LGBTQ community but it effects all of us."
NYC LCLAA President Sonia Ivany stated, "NYC's stop-and-frisk policy's racial profiling of communities of color, and in particular of our youth, severely infringes on civil liberties and human rights in our city. The NYC Labor Council for Latin American Advancement calls for an immediate halt of this discriminatory policy."
The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club is proud to be part of the effort to End Stop-and-Frisk," stated Allen Roskoff, the president of the organization. "We find it outrageous that Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Police Department have gotten away with such racist behavior to date."
"American Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder with other fellow Americans in the struggle to stop our nation's slide backwards into a police state," stated Dr. Shaik Ubaid, New York Co-Chair of Muslim Peace Coalition USA. "We are doing what El-Haj Malik Shabbaz,(Malcolm X) who had walked these same streets, would have done."
"We march with tens of thousands of concerned New Yorkers as part of the protest against the NYPD's harsh and unjust practices that do harm to the city's residents, especially people from low-income communities of color, on a daily basis," said Robert Gangi, Director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. "The city's leaders must take steps to abolish the quota system, which drives stop-and-frisk and other bullying and harassing tactics, criminalizing the city's most vulnerable populations: young black and brown men, LGBT people, homeless people, individuals with mental illness, sex workers, street vendors, and immigrants."
"RWDSU represents a diverse immigrant workforce that is integral to New York City yet targeted by rampant racial profiling," said Christina Baal, Deputy Political Director of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. "We organized our members and immigrant advocates for this march to send a clear message that the civil rights of everyone must be equally respected."
The silent march was first used in 1917 by the NAACP--then just eight years old--to draw attention to race riots that tore through communities in East St. Louis, Illinois, and build national opposition to lynching.
"Today, we march down Fifth Avenue in the hopes that every street in our city is policed just like Fifth Avenue is every day," stated New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams. "The standards for acceptable policing cannot be determinate on how someone looks or dresses. The misuse and abuse of stop, question and frisk by the NYPD is both discriminatory and ineffective, and we will not rest until meaningful reform, including passage of the Community Safety Act, is achieved."
"A basic right of many New Yorkers is being violated: the right to be left alone when you have done nothing wrong. We all want police officers fighting crime and keeping our streets safe, but that does not require stopping-and-frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent young people," stated New York City Councilmember Brad Lander. "I am proud to be the sponsor of a bill, with Councilmember Jumaane Williams and 22 of our colleagues, to create an inspector general for the NYPD, who would put stop-and-frisk under the microscope."
"I march in silence, but my message will be heard," stated New York City Councilmember Letitia James. "Respect our rights."
"New Yorkers have had enough of the discriminatory and ineffective stop-and-frisk policy," said New York City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Stopping 685,000 people every year does not make our city any safer, but instead criminalizes and alienates our young men of color and their families. East Harlem is under siege; our 23rd precinct has the highest number of stops in Manhattan. This shameful practice should be ended, and replaced with smarter and more focused policing strategies."
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer stated "Father's Day is about building bridges from one generation to the next, and passing on the values of fathers to their sons and daughters. That's why I'm spending my first Father's Day with my son marching for justice. Stop-and-Frisk in its current state has created a wall of distrust between people of color and the police that makes it harder, not easier, to solve crimes. Today we send a clear message to leadership in City Hall - New Yorkers want a safer, more just city to pass on to the next generation of New Yorkers." "Today's march is about ending Stop-and-Frisk. That's exactly what we need to do," stated New York City Comptroller John C. Liu. While reasonable people may disagree on whether the practice should be mended or ended I believe it should be abolished. The June 17th march is important not only in New York City but across the United States. Racial profiling is on the rise and is especially prevalent here, as we see from the number of young men of color who are the overwhelming targets of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy. This biased practice, which simply has no place in a democratic society, should be abolished."
Senator Daniel Squadron said, "In large parts of the City, today's stop-and-frisk policies have made entire communities feel like suspects targeted by law enforcement, instead of citizens protected by it. As it's practiced, stop-and-frisk has created a climate in which young black and latino men and their families have a fundamentally different relationship with the NYPD than other New Yorkers. New York cannot wait -- now is the time for real reform."
"The NYPD's policy of stopping and searching hundreds of thousands of people each year - most of them Black or Latino - is increasingly worrisome and must be curtailed," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
"While the NYPD has an obligation to enforce the law, which includes conducting constitutionally permitted searches, they must not violate the public's basic constitutional rights. Our excellent police force is fully capable of fighting crime without disregarding the civil liberties of our citizens."
"I'm marching with my family because today is about all of our families standing together. We are marching for fathers in every neighborhood who worry when their sons are late coming home from school. We are marching for every parent who has had to sit down with a son and explain how to react when he is inevitably stopped by the police," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. "These experiences are not shared equally across our city, but we march as one today because it will take all of our families standing together to reform Stop-and-Frisk."
Former New York City Comptroller and candidate for mayor William C. Thompson, Jr. stated, "Under the misuse of this policy, too many innocent young men and women of color have been needlessly harassed and made to feel like criminals in their own neighborhoods. This must end."