Stop and Frisk Needs to Stop
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
This week New York City's "stop & frisk" tactics were deemed by Federal judge Shira A. Scheindlin to be unfairly slanted towards minorities and therefore unconstitutional and struck down.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was not at all happy about the decision and vowed to appeal. He warned, "You're not going to see any change in tactics overnight."
Bloomberg insists that stop & frisk has kept people in his city safe, citing it as a main factor in the city's large drop in crime over the last several years. I think it's an investment in future crime. After all: All cities need some. It's a business.
When a young non-white male is stopped and searched at the whim of a police officer, his idea of personal space, privacy and self esteem are shattered, to say nothing of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections. The damage goes deep quickly and stays. Stop & frisk, as well as a tactic, is also an incitement. Not the best thing to engender good conduct and safer communities.
The person stopped is forever criminalized. This is not a preventative measure. It is an exercise in humiliation and emasculation. It works. Fear and resentment of law enforcement is often the result and perhaps the goal (again: the investment). To cleave a certain demographic off from the rest, isolate them, make them understand they are "other" and make that stick -- this is a huge part of stop & frisk. The damage done is irreparable. You might get better but you'll never forget it.
The enemy in America is the same as it's been for centuries: equality. From the first indentured servant and slave, a fraction of the country's population are kept down, generationally doomed to repeat history, so a man like mayor Bloomberg can assure the citizens that he's tough on crime. His happy statistics come with a price that will be paid by future generations. I believe him. I don't think there will be a "change in tactics" overnight -- in fact, I don't think there will be one at all.
All this made me think of my own history of stop & frisk.