In 2011, the New York City Police Department stopped more people than the total population of the state of Vermont – that's about 626,431. After Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) reached out several times to the Department of Justice on the issue of stop and frisks, state lawmakers from New York secured a meeting with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez regarding their concerns over the city's policies. The meeting will take place at the Department of Justice on Thursday morning. The elected officials will also participate in a racial profiling/stop-and-frisk conference hosted by Clarke.
The lawmakers believe the New York City Police Department stop-and-frisk policy focuses on minorities and is a violation of civil liberties. The number of stops by the New York City Police Department has skyrocketed over the last ten years.
In 2002, 97,296 New Yorkers were stopped by the police. In 2011, 685,724 New Yorkers were stopped by the police. Eighty-eight percent of those stopped in 2011 were innocent. The racial breakdowns of the stops in 2011: 53% of those stopped were Black, 34% were Hispanic and only 9% were White. The City of New York is 15% Black and 17% Hispanic according to the CENSUS.
The New York elected officials will be in Washington to take part in a conference hosted by Brooklyn Congresswoman Clarke that will focus on the issue of stop-and-frisk policies.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly have defended the practice. When asked what he wants to hear from Perez at the meeting, Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY), who represents the Queens borough of New York City, said, "the policies that have been instituted by New York City have to be rebuked. They have to go in a completely different direction. All you have to be is Black and they're stopping you."
"If anything there should be an articulate reason to stop and frisk someone. And if you don't have a reason then I think it's going to cost the city of New York a lot of money as people begin to sue the City of New York," Meeks added. "We need the Attorney General and others to come in."
"This is a civil rights issue in 2012," Meeks said.
Rep. Clarke's conference on the issue will take place in the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Attendees will include NY Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, NY Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., NY Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, NY Assemblyman Nick Perry, NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm, NYC Councilmember Brad Lander, NYC Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYC Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and NYC Councilmember Deborah Rose.