The NYPD has been accused of illegally stopping and searching New Yorkers (of color) without any reason to do so. If you’re familiar with the constitution, you’ll understand why this is about our fundamental rights as United States citizens, and how those rights have been circumvented by racial and other forms of profiling. The real shame is the constitution initially only counted slaves as 3/5 of a human, so it wasn’t a perfect document, but that’s why we have Amendments (I’m a big fan of 13, 14, and 15 myself). More on the disgraceful tactic of intimidation after the jump.
WNYC had one example of an illegal search. His name is Antonio Rivera, age 25, of the Bronx (where the amount of searches is much higher than anywhere else in the city – see graphic below).
Antonio Rivera, 25, said he gets stopped by police up to five times a month. In January, he said he was stopped and frisked near the corner of E. 183rd Street and Creston Avenue in the Bronx. He was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Critics of the police say his case is an example of how officers may be conducting illegal searches when making marijuana arrests.
Rivera said his marijuana was in his pants and that police pulled it out of his clothes after searching him without his consent.
“So they checked my pockets, my coat pockets, and they patted my jean pockets,” Rivera said, “and then once he felt the package I had in my crotch area, he went into my pants and he pulled it out.”
Rivera had lodged a soft Ziploc bag of marijuana between his legs inside his pants while still in the room where he bought it. He said he never took the drugs out when he went outside, but the police officer who arrested him told prosecutors Rivera was openly displaying his drugs.
In the criminal complaint against Rivera, the arresting officer stated that he “observed the defendant to have on his person, in his right hand 1 ziplock bag containing a dried-green leafy substance with the distinctive odor alleged to be marijuana in public view.”
New York City Police have a difficult job. In a city of over 8 million, less than 40,000 police in Manhattan seek to keep us from anarchy. If you’re a libertarian, you just spit at your computer screen. The problem with so many people and so few police, is the police get jumpy, and after Giuliani sorta implied it was OK to target people of color (I am basing this off my own experience and what I’ve heard from life-long New Yorkers), the NYPD started stopping minorities (mainly black people) and frisking them WITHOUT ANY PROBABLY CAUSE!
This is wrong, but it’s become so institutionalized in New York, I don’t know how we can correct it. Just be careful if you’re a person of color in Harlem or the Bronx. You’re police targets even though it’s constitutionally wrong.
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