Activists Come Out to Protest NYPD's "Stop and Frisk"
by Adel Manoukian Reverend Al Sharpton joined thousands of people marching silently at a "Stop-and-Frisk" protest rally held on Sunday, June 17, organized by the Reverend, the NAACP and Local 1199 of the SEIU union. About 300 civil rights groups were represented in the roughly 30-block walk from the northwest corner of Central Park to Mayor Bloomberg's townhouse on 79th Street. Police barricaded the area around the Mayor's home and his aides would not specify if he was home. The silent march suddenly became loud and rowdy once the large turnout reached the home after about 2 and ½ hours, as activists shouted and tried to push past barricades to continue the walk down Fifth Avenue. According to witnesses, fights broke out, including some scuffles between protestors and the NYPD. Nine arrests were made by police under counts of assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The NYPD's "Stop and Frisk Policy", from the mid-90s, is under much scrutiny by residents, elected officials, and labor union members because of the police's tendency to stop young male blacks and Hispanics. Out of the roughly 700,000 people stopped and frisked last year, 87% were black or Hispanic. Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly understand efforts must be made by police to have more respect for those who are stopped but they stand by the policy, saying "Stop-and-Frisk" keeps crime rates low and guns off the street. Gay and lesbian activists also made appearance, showing the growing alliance between civil rights groups and them. This comes after the Board of NAACP, a part of which are many church leaders, voted to endorse gay marriage. The march was reminiscent of NYC's "silent march" for civil rights in 1917 after race riots in East St. Louis.
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