New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” policy has drawn ire over alleged racial profiling, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn’t believe in the theory. In his view, the policy isn’t an act of racism because most of the people who commit crimes in the city are Black anyway.
Kelly broke down the inner workings of his mind, in a segment airing on ABC’s Nightline Wednesday (May 1). “The stark reality is that crime happens in communities of color,” he explained. “About 70 percent to 75 percent of the people described as committing violent crimes — assault, robbery, shootings, grand larceny — are described as being African-American.
“The percentage of people who are stopped is 53 percent African-American. So really, African-Americans are being understopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime.”
Further in his analysis Kelly denied claims of racial discrimination brought on by a Brooklyn teen. Kasim Walters , 17, has been stopped and frisked seven times. “In that moment you are scared,” the teen said. “The first thing [I think] is, ‘Am I going to get out of this alive?”
Despite the police shooting death of Brooklyn teen Kimani Gray, and others who have had fatal run-ins with overzealous cops using their weapons without warrant, in Kelly’s view, Walters has nothing to fear. “We are trying to save his life,” he said. “And we are trying to save the life of other young people who are disproportionately victimized on the streets of this city and other cities throughout America.”
While the City Health Department has noted a decrease of deaths from gun violence in New York City, the statistics haven’t curbed public outrage. A class action suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights has gone to trial and will wrap up in mid-May.
Since its introduction, stop-and-frisk has been protested by citizens and lawmakers alike. City Controller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio –all of whom are Democratic mayoral hopefuls–have all accused the NYPD of using stop-and-frisk to harass Blacks and Latinos in the country.
Last summer, actor Giancarlo Esposito was stopped by police while leaving his stage play in Manhattan. Authorities claimed that they mistook him for someone else.
Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP