You’ve probably heard about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program. It gives New York City police officers free reign to stop, question, and then frisk individuals. The caveat: An officer can frisk you only if he feels he has cause, under the vague legal principle of “reasonable suspicion.” Of the 684,000 people stopped in 2011, over 80% were completely innocent of any crime. Even more troubling, the vast majority of those stopped were either black or Hispanic. Since this is something we all may have to deal with, I offer you my own humiliating experience with the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk”.
Last Saturday I was walking down Christopher Street, holding an Arizona Iced Tea still wrapped in a paper bag. As I neared the curb on the corner of Christopher and Seventh I thought I heard someone shouting after me: “HEY! STOP!” Usually I wouldn’t have turned around, but for some reason I did. Two cops were speed-walking to catch up with me. I turned to face them, confused. They were clearly pissed; they told me they thought I had been trying to walk away from them. No, I said. Then they demanded to see my iced tea can.
After examining the drink and thoroughly determining it was not alcohol, they handed it back to me. There were two of them, a man and a woman. The man was very young. He looked disappointed but determined; I could tell by looking into his eyes that he wanted to nail me or at least humiliate me. He started briskly asking me questions. I answered all of them curtly and indignantly, but well. I didn’t think that I had implicated myself in any crime. Nevertheless, he said he was going to frisk me. My stomach dropped; what happened next may have possibly been the most humiliating two minutes of my life.
First, there was the feeling of violation. I was wearing a large coat. He went all through the pockets of and through my pants pockets and my wallet. Then he put his hands on my body. I remember the moment he put his hand on my crotch and felt the waistband of my pants with his clammy disgusting hands. I could have thrown up right there.
Second was the feeling of humiliation. If you’ve ever been around Christopher Street on a Saturday night, you know that it’s a very crowded block. I could feel the stares on me. People were watching – waiting I assume – to see me get arrested. When he was done, he had of course found nothing, and released me. The feeling of shame as I half ran across the street away from the officers was so intense I could almost feel my skin burning. My only solace was that that fucker didn’t get what he wanted.
I’ve been obsessing ever since over why I was singled out. That’s the worst part about the whole thing. Like the thousands of others who have been stopped, I was interrogated and humiliated for no reason at all.
Have you had run-ins with NYPD on or near campus? Share with us.