Thousands of protesters held a silent march against NYPD stop-and-frisks Sunday, marching on Fifth Avenue along Central Park from 110th Street down to Mayor Bloomberg's mansion on 79th. There, the diverse group quietly dispersed, only a handful tangling with police. Organizers insisted the protest was not against rank-and-file NYPD cops, but against the department's stop-and-frisk policy itself, which critics say unfairly targets minorities.
Members of 300 different civil rights groups joined in the walk, including representatives from the NAACP, the National Action Network, and the NYCLU. The families of Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham also participated.
"We are black, white, Asian, LGBT, straight, Jewish, Muslim and Christian," New York City Council member Jumaane Williams said before Sunday's march began, "Mayor Bloomberg has been our great uniter. We've been screaming loudly, and he hasn't heard us, but hopefully he'll hear the deafening silence."
The NYPD stopped people nearly 700,000 times in 2011. Of those stopped, 87 percent were black in Latino. Nine out of 10 stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have continued to defend the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk, saying it keeps guns off the street.
Here are 11 people we met at Sunday's protest:
When we asked Caleb, 15, of Fort Greene, if he'd ever been stopped and frisked, he responded, "Nah, but most of my friends have. Only a matter of time, I guess."
Three weeks into a year's vow of silence, Matthew Swaye wrote on a piece of paper that he'd been arrested five times protesting stop-and-frisk since Oct. 21. Asked why he'd taken his vow, he wrote, "Men talking too much. :)"
New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm's district has the third-highest rate of stop-and-frisks in the city. People in his district had been stopped by police 18,000 times in 2011, he said. "It's outrageous and has a chilling effect," he said. Along Roosevelt Avenue, he added, cops targeted LGBT residents, disproportionately accusing them of prostitution. Dromm was joined at the protest Sunday by members of The Campaign To Stop False Arrests.
Ernest Johnston, of Harlem, said four years ago, a cop mistook him for somebody else and pulled a gun. The case of mistaken identity was cleared up, but it rattled him. Johnston is now an activist concerned with the stretch of Lexington Avenue between 110th and 125th Streets, which he says has the highest concentration of former prisoners re-entering society, often with criminal records that prevent them from getting jobs and housing.
George Mack, of South Jamaica, said Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn are "trying to criminalize my children."
Richard said he was beat up by cops in 1996 and then charged with assaulting a police officer. His case went to trial and he was acquitted of the assault charge. <strong>Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the assault charges were dismissed.</strong>
Carol Porteous said she's scared that her 15-year-old son will be harassed.
Reverend Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church is one of the founders of <a href="http://occupyfaithnyc.com/" target="_hplink">Occupy Faith</a>, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He said that ever since 9/11, "security" in New York has trumped everything else.
All this woman holding a Trayvon Martin sign would say is, "No justice, no peace."
Marty Brod, a New York native and World War II veteran, said Bloomberg's NYPD was creating a "police state." Stop-and-frisk, he said, is "demeaning" and doesn't reduce crime.
Kevin (right) said he'd been arrested twice in one week on charges that were later dismissed.