NEW YORK - Civil rights activists and elected officials gathered at City Hall here this week to protest an alarming increase in the numbers of black and Latino youth who are being stopped and frisked by police.
Over 684.000 people were subjected to the New York Police Department's aggressive tactics in 2011, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. Fifty-four percent of those stopped were African American. Latinos comprised 34 percent of the stops.
"Innocent New Yorkers on 600,000 separate occasions this past year were stopped, frisked and maybe thrown up against the wall. Barely six percent of these terrorizing encounters resulted in arrest," said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union according to NY1.
The NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy, instituted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has increased by 600 percent since his first year in office.
Critics charged the stops were racially motivated. "It's racial profiling, it's racism, and it's having dire consequences in our city," said Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president.
"These numbers make clear that illegal stops-and-frisks have become an epidemic in New York City," said Darius Charney, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a federal class action suit against the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy. A similar suit has been filed in Philadelphia by the ACLU. Philadelphia police also routinely subject young men to questioning and searches.
The National Action Network condemned the practice, saying it "inevitably leads to racial profiling and illegal stops, and unfairly targets innocent blacks and other minorities without proper cause."
The National Action Network and its leader, the Rev Al Sharpton, have been been the object of spying and dirty tactics by the NYPD.
Muslim groups have also complained about the NYPD's practice of racial profiling targeting mosques. Over 30 advocacy groups recently asked New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the NYPD.
The stop-and-frisk statistics were obtained by a New York Civil Liberties Union freedom of information request.
Photo: david_shankbone // CC 2.0