Stop And Frisk Is Terrifying

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.

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  1. says

    Two things. I recently published an article on Stop & Frisk in the Huffington post on Stop & Frisk that you might like to share.

    Secondly, I’ve spent the last two years making a documentary on this issue. Please take a moment to look at it.

    The documentary, STOP, follows Floyd v. the City of New York, a class-action lawsuit brought by the Center of Constitutional Rights against the City of New York. The lawsuit alleges racial profiling in the New York City Police Department’s practice of Stop & Frisk.

    We’ve all heard a lot about Stop & Frisk over the last year. This documentary is an attempt to offer a thoughtful exploration of a practice that effects more than 700,000 New Yorkers every year.

    here’s out trailer:

    Also we’re running a Kickstarter campaign to raise finishing funds for the film. Please take a look. There are only 2 days to go!

    Thank You

  2. says

    I’m so sorry that this happened to you, but did you know that it all could have been avoided with a few simple words? It’s illegal for cops to search you without reasonable suspicion, and making police aware that you “know your rights” is all you would have had to do to send them on their merry way. Asking things like, “Am I being stopped?” or “Am I free to go?” would have resulted in police answer with “yes” or “no,” and obviously since you weren’t doing anything wrong, you would have been set free.
    Again, Stop and Frisk is awful, and is something that the NYU Students for Sensible Drug Policy are trying to spread awareness about in order to put an end to such a counterproductive drug policy. Come to one of our club meetings and learn more about it.

  3. Erin Schneider says

    Thanks for posting this. I’m actually the co-producer of the Nation’s Stop & Frisk piece, and an alumni of NYU. Spread the word! This happens to way too many New Yorkers, just for the color of their skin.

  4. aman j says

    well stop and frisk has a lot to do with institutionalized racism that the NYPigsD have been sanctioned to do under the auspices of Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg. I was surprised that wasn’t brought up in this here Local article but was addressed in the Huffpost one. y’all should really take a look at nycresistance. he’s the real hero() I also encourage us, as students to take a stance on this by carrying camcorders(iphone, handheld, doesn’t matter) to MONITOR and watch the police and their disgusting and corruptive behavior. DO NOT TRUST THE POLICE.THEY CAN BE BOUGHT AND SOLD.

  5. amani j says

    I was surprised to find that there wasn’t any mention of race in this here article. That is the main issue here and it should be contended that the Commissioner and the Mayor are both ENCOURAGING and FURTHERING institutionalized racism. There is no other excuse for it. These police officers are for the betterment of the city and their corrupt goals and motives and that should be addressed. The answer to this is to MONITOR and BE ALERT. Take a lesson from the amazing inspiration that is ( Do not talk to police and do not give them any information. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
    sorry to the author paul as well. If they ever do some stuff like this to you, know that they had no reasonable doubt to frisk you and that was illegal .You POSSESS a 4th amendment. You can ALWAYS resist.