New stats about the NYPD's racist tactics show why some Occupiers chant "F*** the police."
Attitudes toward the police are the source of innumerable disagreements and divisions between those who’ve participated in Occupy-related actions in the past half year. From Oakland, Calif., to New York “Fuck the Police” marches regularly snake through the streets, while in early encampments chants of “We are the 99%, and so are you!” would ring out invitingly to surrounding police officers. (Unsurprisingly, anti-police sentiment increasingly outweighed support for police as more and more Occupy participants felt the jab of billy clubs and the sting of tear gas.)
It’s beyond the purview of these paragraphs to explain the many reasons someone might take to the streets and shout “fuck the police!” However, as a new report from the New York Civil Liberties Union confirms, the consistently racist practices of the NYPD should make fierce anti-police sentiments understandable, even for those who find such an attitude unpalatable.
Using the NYPD’s own statistics, the NYCLU report highlights what they describe as a “two-tiered” policing system, in which black and Latino New Yorkers receive very different treatment from whites. Perhaps the most shocking finding of all: There were more stops of African-American young men in 2011 than there are African-American men living in the city — and nine out of 10 of those stopped had committed no crime.
In nearly half of New York’s 76 police precincts, black and Latino New Yorkers accounted for more than 90 percent of those stopped; in almost all precincts black and Latinos accounted for more than half of stops. Furthermore, frisks, which are only supposed to take place if police suspect someone is carrying a weapon, occurred far more often if the person stopped was black or Latino, even though white people were found more often to be carrying weapons. The report also notes that despite the 600 percent increase in stop-and-frisks under Mayor Bloomberg, the number of guns recovered has not increased proportionately.
“This cannot stand. Real people’s lives are in the balance. Whole generations of boys and girls are growing up afraid of the very people that are supposed to be keeping them safe,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, told press on Wednesday.
Is it a surprise, then, that in a march of 5,000 predominantly non-white New Yorkers organized to call for justice for the murdered Trayvon Martin, with Occupy support, that chants moved smoothly from “We are Trayvon Martin!” to “Fuck the Police!”? The greater surprise should perhaps be why more people don’t feel angry at the NYPD. Of course, many will continue to disagree with anti-police marches. However, when statistics on policing show what the NYCLU’s Lieberman called “a tale of two cities,” disagreements should only arise over tactics to redress this system; it seems there’s an overwhelming case for fury at the police.
In a statement, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne defended police practices, saying that “stops save lives” and that New York has this year seen a record low for murders. He said that it is “the safest big city in America,” which prompts the question: safe for whom? When vast swaths of New York’s population live in constant fear of being harassed by a well-armed, uniformed gang — and that this fear is largely contingent on a person’s skin color — this strikes me as the sort of safety I have no interest in maintaining.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Natasha Lennard.
More Related Stories
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Who is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?
- Colorado judge rules Abercrombie parent company violates Disabilities Act
- When America became a third-world country
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- It's Whitewater all over again
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Anyone regret slashing National Weather Service budget now?
- Oklahoma senator: Tornado aid "totally different" from Sandy aid
- Aloof, shifty Obama: Nixon times ten thousand!
- Obama: Moore "needs to get everything it needs right away"
- California Tea Party group files first IRS lawsuit
- Still no polling backlash for Obama
- Oklahoma senator wants to offset tornado aid with other cuts
- Former IRS commissioner to testify on Capitol Hill
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- Top White House aides knew about IRS probe but didn't tell Obama
- Gohmert: IRS would've "probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants"
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11