Rockaway Rally to Stop “Stop and Frisk”
Having read City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s recent column in The Wave in which he criticized attempts to curtail Stop and Frisk and proposed bills in the City Council calling for more oversight of the police department, seeming to view them as an attack on the work of the police, I decided to check out a “Stop Stop and Frisk” march staged by a group of activists from the Rockaway Youth Task Force, Brothers for Peace and Social Change, Culinary Kids, and People’s Justice. About 30 people marched along Beach Channel Drive from Beach 57th Street to Mott Avenue on June 22nd, a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was only able to cover the early part of the march which was aimed at making the community aware of their efforts, handing out leaflets and engaging in information conversations on the route.
Josmar Trujillo, one of the march organizers and a Rockaway resident said, “We’re not here to say we don’t want any police. We want policing to be done the right way.”
Ulrich did recognize that the policy is controversial: “Critics abound. Some argue stop and frisk violates civil liberties and unfairly targets people of color and minority communities.” Ulrich did not address the impact of the policy on law-abiding young men who are so often the target based on little evidence other than the color of their skin. One 22 year old marcher, wearing a bright orange Rockaway Youth Task Force teeshirt, touched on the unfair aspect. “I’ve been stopped many times. I’ve even been stopped walking into my building and asked where am I going. They search and pat you down. They ask if you’ve ever been arrested. They look you up and they let you go. It’s a waste of their time. It’s a waste of my time. It doesn’t actually stop crime and we’re tired of it.”
Christina Gonzalez, 26, who grew up in Dayton was asked about the impact of the policy on women, given that they are almost never stopped, said they are no less affected. “They’re the ones who have to defend their partners or be forced to stand by and watch helplessly,” she said. Ulrich maintained that “Stop and frisk has helped drive crime to historic lows, removed thousands of illegal guns from city streets and contributed to the overall renaissance of our great city.” Critics point out that evidence points to a very small percentage are actually accused of a crime. Of the nearly 5 million stops that took place in last decade, less than 1 percent resulted in a handgun recovered. The 101st Precinct, which covers the eastern end of the Rockaways, has some of the highest rates of stop and frisk in Queens and in the City according to the NY Civil Liberties Union and is one of the only precincts in the City that has maintained a high level of stops while the rest of the City has seen a drop.
Trujillo said, “Residents and community groups are demanding that post- Sandy Rockaway be rebuilt with as much social and racial justice as planned storm-resistant infrastructure. Inequity and injustice have no place in a community that has pledged to be united moving forward. We gathered to show that we will not let the status quo of racial profiling in Far Rockaway continue.” Some claim that efforts to curb Stop and Frisk actually serves to relieve police from pressure from commanding officers to meet quotas to juke the stats, which are often the sole method used to judge effective policing. Critics blame Bloomberg’s cuts to the police, saying if there were more officers on the street for community policing there would be less need for Stop and Frisk. A June 24th report at Capital- NewYork.com addressed this issue. “The most recent budget does not raise taxes or include increases in fines or fees ... and does not include more money to increase the size of the New York Police Department. One reason the police stepped up their proactive tactics, according to one of [Police Chief Ray] Kelly’s predecessors, Bill Bratton, is the reduction in the size of the police department. With fewer officers and more responsibilities to fight street crime and terrorism, police can no longer spend as much time learning about the neighborhoods they’re patrolling, developing a rapport with residents and acquiring information. According to Bratton, the “political decision” not to increase the size of the police force has led to the stop-and-frisk problem Bloomberg is now dealing with.” A public debate on the issue will be organized in Far Rockaway in July. Those interested in speaking or attending can get more information. Facebook: Resist Stop and Frisk - Far Rockaway Email: firstname.lastname@example.org