Harlem ‘Blows The Whistle’ On Stop & Frisk

Stop and Frisk protesters heading down W 125th St from Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd to General Grant and Manhattanville Houses on Amsterdam Avenue

“We don’t need no cops stopping us in these streets, blow the whistle when you see the police!” shouted a group of activists marching down W 125th St Thursday afternoon. The activists were protesting against the Stop and Frisk laws, which allows police officers to stop an individual and search for possible concealed weapon. It also applies if a crime has taken place nearby and the person fits the description. However, according to a WNYC analysis of recently released police data, eighty-six percent of teenagers who were stopped were either black or Latino and most of them boys. This would strongly suggest that almost all teen males with dark skin in New York City will probably get stopped and frisked by the time he’s graduated from high school.

Will Reese, a protester, shared a story of a young boy who was stopped by a police officer and was asked to reveal his lunch bag so they could check for drugs, but then took a bite out of his sandwich and gave it back to him. “It has nothing to do with crime, it has to do with humiliation.” said Reese. Others have been arrested for misdemeanors such as displaying marijuana (after emptying their pockets) which then gives them a criminal making it harder to get business loans or a job upon release.

Blow The Whistle Volunteer handing out whistles and informational flyers to people passing by

The protest was initiated by Carl Dix, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Cornel Westacademic, activist, and author, and The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, a non-profit organization that moves to stop mass incarceration and police brutality. The protest not only spread across other areas in New York such as Union Square and The Bronx but nationwide: Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and more. In Harlem, Dix, along with others joined up at W 125th St and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd at 3 p.m. to hand out whistles, informational flyers, and button pins to the community. The group was not only spreading awareness but encouraging passerbys to blow their whistle when they see someone getting “stopped and frisked.”

The Wire Actor, Gbenga Akinnagebe (left) blowing the whistle with Carl Dix (right)

“Stop and Frisk is a form of treating our young people like a crimilized generation and it is also serves as a pipeline to prison for so many of them [...] it really comes down to a contributing factor in a genocide aimed at black people.” said Dix. Many supporters seem to agree. Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe,The Wire, who was among the supporters of Blow The Whistle said ”I think it’s important to come out and speak on it cause if not it just continues to happen.”

Next the group plans to help fight legal cases and to continue protesting at events like The National Day of Protest for to Stop Police Brutality on October 22nd. “We’re gonna be out with our signs and banners on October 22nd” Dix said “We’ve already got a few cases from last year [...] we’re gonna keep the fight going.” he continued.

To get involved, people are urged to go to the website: www.stopmassincarceration.org to get materials and organizing gear, contact information to the organization, and other ways to get involved.

Some extra photos from the event:

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