New York City marked Father's Day this year in protest, as thousands silently marched down Fifth Avenue. A sign of the growing opposition to Mayor Michael Blooomberg's stop-and-frisk policy, this march brought awareness to the NYPD's increasing use of racial profiling. Yet as Bloomberg stands firm in support of the policy, pressure to repeal the action is expected to rise.
First introduced in 2002, stop-and-frisk was designed to lower rates of violent crime and take guns off the streets. Since then, however, the intention has become mired by abuse. 685,724 people were stopped on the street in 2011, of which over 87 percent were black or Latino. Even more jarring, black and Hispanic males between age 14 and 24 made up 41.6 percent of stops, despite only accounting for 4.7 percent of the city's population. And of these nearly 700,000 stops, only 780 guns were found and less than six percent were arrested.
While touting claims that stop-and-frisk "saves lives" and has helped make New York the safest big city in the country, Bloomberg continues to resist allegations of racial profiling. Characterizing the problem as an issue of courtesy and respect, Bloomberg detracts from the real issue of discrimination and injustice within the New York Police Department.
Stretching beyond the confines of the city, instances of racial injustice are spiking around the country, prompting attention at a Federal level. Evidenced by the Senate recently holding their first hearing on racial profiling in over a decade; raising hopes for the resurrection of the long contended End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA).
As Bloomberg holds steady in New York and partisanship remains a deterrent in the Senate however, it is unlikely we can expect to see real improvements on these issues in the coming months.
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