Stop and Frisk: Or, Breathing While Black


Darrin Manning, a high school student, was on his way to a basketball game with some teammates. While en-route, they were stopped by a police officer who proceeded to Stop and Frisk the group, suspecting they were up to no good. During the frisking with Mr. Manning, the officer used excessive force; squeezing and pulling his testicles with such extreme force that Manning felt a pop. Emergency surgery was then performed once Manning was transported to Children’s Hospital. His mother is now very fearful that he will be infertile and unable to have children because of the incident. 

While this sounds like an isolated incident, groping of this nature happens very often when young men of color interact with the police in the US, which indicates a larger problem with people of color and the police. An even more troubling aspect of the event is that Darrin has absolutely no criminal record, and is a straight-A student in school. However, even if those facts were inverted, the following is absolutely unacceptable and is more widespread than one would want to entertain. And while this occurred in Philadelphia, it is not far-off base from what is possible under the presently legal New York City policy.

This is obviously a very critical view of the policy. There is another side of the debate which claims that Stop and Frisk prevents “mass amounts” of violence. That side is incorrect. But, let’s put that on the backburner for a second, and do what a “good citizen” would do, use objective data to analyze the efficacy of the policy.

Of all stops conducted:

  • 52% of them led to a frisk that was intended to search for weapons. In those frisks, 1.5% of the time a weapon was found.
  • 8% of them led to a search into the persons clothing (based on the officer suspecting that weapons or contraband were inside the clothing). Of these stops, 9% of the time the officer found a weapon, and 14% of them the officer found contraband.
  • 52% of the people stopped were Black, 31% were Hispanic, and 10% were white.
  • A weapon was found and taken from Black people 1% of the time, Hispanic people 1.1% of the time, and Whites 1.4% of the time.
  • Contraband (non-weapon) was found and taken from Black people 1.8% of the time, Hispanic people 1.7% of the time, and White people 2.3% of the time.

Now, those are the “COLD HARD FACTS” that people are looking for. That’s right, I’m playing within their terms now! There is zero possibility that this policy does anything to stop “mass amounts” of violence, but it is very effective at terrorizing people of color who walk the streets of New York. Once the facts are broken down, it can be seen that most stops are useless and ineffective. Less than 2% of stops lead to anything happening or being found. And efficacy is really a discussion? C’mon… you can do better than that!

Yes! You are correct! They exist for protective reasons… “in-case” anything happens. Fortunately enough, nothing happens often enough that warrants all these stops against innocent people. Crazily enough, a majority of those people happen to be people of color. 

How is it that Whites are stopped the least but lead in the seizing of weapons and contraband? Good question, I am asking myself the same thing. You should join me. Just because someone has a darker hue does NOT mean they are more dangerous. In fact, those “COLD HARD FACTS” would indicate that the Whites are more dangerous and violent. 

It is very important that the violence against bodies of color is recognized, and acted against. While Stop and Frisk does not exist across the nation, it is of the utmost importance that this injustice is organized against. This is something anyone can participate in: Start a discussion! Contact your legislator! Join in a protest march! Write an article! Do something… anything. If we sit around any longer, the injustices will continue unquestioned, and get even worse on an exponential level. 

As far as you’re concerned, I haven’t started playing NWA’s hit-record yet, but if we keep going down the road we are headed down now, than it will be about time to press play… Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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