Controversial New York City laws permitting the use of stop-and-frisks have ignited controversy, raising concerns over racial profiling and privacy violations. Now, artists, MC Grizzz and Akil b STRANGe spark the conversation with a music video exploring the practice's pitfalls and how people of color are affected.
The video opens with an image of a 16-year-old victim, who had recorded cops telling him that he was being stopped because he's a "fucking mutt," last year.
Akil b STRANGe speaks to his own experience as a black man in NYC, and raps, "I became aware of the inequities between them (non-minorities) and me. Like how much tenser I would be with cops in the vicinity?"
Despite efforts by people like Councilman Jumaane Williams (seen at 1:47) to pass legislation to reduce stop-and-frisks, Akil b STRANGe feels that profiling has been "so ingrained as a part of police procedure," that an end to the program is hard to imagine.
The black male's perspective is juxtaposed by MC Grizz, who does not live with the same type of fear of the NYPD because he is white. He speaks to the unfairness of the laws, and the explicit racism that still exists.
The rap ends powerfully with a Bloomberg quote. "I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little." The statistic shown in the video at 2:25 reads, "NYC population black and latino: 52%; Stopped by police: 84% black and latino."
What do you think about stop-and-frisk? Do you have personal experiences to share? Tell us in the comments below.
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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.