Several thousand demonstrators participated in a silent march on Sunday down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to protest the New York Police Department’s "stop and frisk" policies. The policies grant officers wide discretion to detain and search pedestrians.
Civil rights activists say the city’s Black and Latino residents—and LGBT youth of color—are unfairly targeted, notes the New York Times.
Police officers stopped nearly 700,000 people last year, 87 percent of them black or Latino. Of those stopped, more than half were also frisked. The protest, which began at 3 p.m., followed recent remarks by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that he planned to scale back and amend the practice, amid escalating protests. Mr. Bloomberg has argued that stop-and-frisk gets guns off the street and reduces crime. The march, which stretched for about 20 blocks, ended at East 78th Street, a block from the mayor’s residence.
As of Friday, 299 organizations had endorsed the march, including unions, religious groups and Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arab, and Jewish groups. The turnout reflected the growing alliance between civil rights groups and gay and lesbian activists, who in past years have often kept each other at arm’s length. Last month, the board of the N.A.A.C.P., which includes several church leaders, voted to endorse same-sex marriage. The roster of support for the march on Sunday included at least 28 gay, lesbian and transgender groups.
Chris Bilal, 24, who is black and gay, said he had been stopped three times, the last time while dancing with two friends in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. “Sometimes I’m targeted as a drug dealer, sometimes as someone interfering with the quality of life, sometimes as a gay African-American man in a place I don’t belong,” he said.
During the 10 years of the Bloomberg administration, the police have performed 4,356,927 stops, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Among Black men ages 14 to 24, the number of stops last year was greater than their total population. LGBT youth of color are often "targets of police violence and harassment," the Huffington Post reported last week.
The march's leaders included the NAACP's Benjamin Todd Jealous and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The march was attended by the city's Democratic mayorals—Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller John Liu and former comptroller William C. Thompson. Their presence indicates a solidifying opposition to the policy.
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