Stop & Frisk Revisited: Brooklyn Youth Organizers Release Report Reflecting on Racist Policing

Earlier this year, under the pro-police regime of Eric Adams, the recorded number of stop and frisks in the first quarter of the year went up for the first time in three years for the same time period. The number of stop and frisks have, by official count, decreased dramatically since 2011 – the peak of recorded stops. That drop and recent numbers of police stops (there were just under 9,000 stops in 2021, according to the NYCLU) should, however, be taken with a grain of salt as a federal monitor has said in 2015, 2017 and earlier this year that the police department undercounts stops. 

This week, the Brooklyn-based youth and community organization Red Hook Initiative (RHI) released a report “revisiting” the NYPD’s policing practices. In 2012, RHI conducted a community survey of hundreds of Red Hook residents, most of whom had been stopped by the NYPD. Back then, reported stops by police were at over 530,000 for 2012. 

The new report, authored by RHI’s Public Safety Team, a group of young adults from the Red Hook community, looks at the lasting impressions left by the NYPD’s continuing enforcement practices in this part of Brooklyn. Dr. Ana Ortega Williams, one of the co-creators of the original 2012 report, said of this report that “youth in Red Hook deserve to live, feel free, laugh with depth, and have enough room in their days to be their whole creative and most expressed selves. Racial profiling bypolice halts this freedom.”

The following are excerpts from the new report:

“…I strongly feel that the court system is looking past the aftermath of being stopped and frisked, for instance, the effects this tactic has on the black and brown communities whether it’s mental or emotional. Especially when the majority of police encounters with the black community are negative and end with petty arrests. The community already lacks trust and respect for police officers and I believe allowing them to stop and frisk is making it worse. Nobody should have the power to approach someone and frisk them without any visible reasons.”  An Doc, Public Safety Organizer

“Policing in low income communities is a way to keep people in poverty and in prison. It affects my neighborhood so much because everyone is walking on eggshells and having to think about whether they will fall victim to inadequate policing.” Dylana Bourne, Public Safety Organizer

“The fact of the matter is that stop and frisk is a break of privacy and personal space and well-being. Not being able to go outside without the fear of being harassed and groped up by the police going through your whole body. I think of the black women who get stopped and frisked and groped up and felt on by creepy police, who don’t respect women’s bodies. I get scared by the thought of that happening to me, so I can only imagine how the other women felt, how all the black men felt getting stripped down in broad daylight.” Faith Anderson, Public Safety Organizer

“In New York City as a young black man there’s a very high chance you would either have experienced or been informed about Stop and Frisk encounters with the NYPD. I have been harassed by the police multiple times but the one time it really changed my mindset was a plain clothes police encounter. This happened one summer night at the age of 16 I was with a group of other young black men going home from a party in Bed-stuy then stopped by four officers in a black vehicle. Just our luck we were walking in a high crime area and based on their perception of us they started to physically harass us by doing a pat down & asking for information we know nothing about.” Christian Rose, Public Safety Organizer

“Police officers having so much leeway to create a suspicion, or excuse, to stop and search someone’s persons creates a mental dilemma for those subject to that kind of discrimination. As a black or latinx person who is aware of the power dynamic between them and cops, this law being in effect changes how people live their lives day-to-day, from not wanting to spend time outside in their neighborhoods, to not trusting the police to protect and serve as they were “meant” to do.” Ashley Craig, Public Safety Organizer

“I have been a victim of stop and frisk since when I was about 11 years old. Around that time my friend group was between the ages of 11-15 years old. The police would stop us for anything we would do! For example, we would be coming from the store and then would be stopped and searched. We would ask why? Their response is “we may have guns in our school bags” Honestly, I feel that they stop and frisk us because they can do it regardless of us looking suspicious or not.” Rayshall Vassal, Public Safety Organizer

You can read the full report HERE.

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