Forum

Stop-and-frisk threatens minority citizens' rights

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On Jan. 7, African-American 16-year-old and straight-A student Darrin Manning became a victim of Philadelphia’s stop-and-frisk policy and police brutality.

While on his way to a basketball game, Manning and his friends were stared down by officer Thomas Purcell, who insisted they stop and chased them after he saw them running in ski masks through the cold. Manning was roughed up, handcuffed, and sexually assaulted by a female officer, who applied such force that she ruptured one of his testicles.

“She patted me down again, and then I felt her reach, and she grabbed my butt. And then she grabbed and squeezed again and pulled down. And that’s when I heard something pop, like I felt it pop,” said Manning in a statement to myfoxphilly.com.

It is horribly ironic to think that Manning is describing the actions of someone in law enforcement, whose job is to protect citizens and prevent incidents like this one from happening.
However, with stop-and-frisk policies, incidents similar to the one that Manning was a victim of are encouraged more than they are prevented.

New York City is the city most known for this type of stop-and-frisk policy, which essentially gives police officers the ability to randomly stop and search citizens without probable cause. Every year, officers stop and question thousands of citizens while patting them down and searching for weapons.

There are two major reasons why this policy is undeniably terrible. First, it is a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees protection “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Second, it allows police officers to bypass the Constitution and search citizens without a warrant. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), 89 percent of those stopped in the first three quarters of 2013 in New York City were innocent.

Perhaps the worst issue with the stop-and-frisk policy is its obvious discrimination against minorities. The NYCLU reports that African-Americans made up 56 percent of those stopped in the first three quarters of 2013 under the program. The stop-and-frisk policy essentially allows officers to act on their prejudice and racism by targeting young African-American and Latino individuals without cause.

With laws like the stop-and-frisk policy, America is stepping backward to a time before the Civil Rights Movement. To make matters worse, Manning’s case is just one example among many where officers have abused the stop-and-frisk policy with disastrous consequences. Last year, a video went viral showing Philadelphia police frisking African-American citizens and saying, “We don’t want you here, anyway. All you do is weaken the f****** country.”

Fortunately, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised to “end the era of stop-and-frisk policing,” announced Thursday that he would be dropping New York City’s appeal of the U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin’s case that ruled the program unconstitutional and guilty of racial profiling, according to the Daily News.

Hopefully, Philadelphia and other cities that have adopted this unconstitutional policy will follow in New York City’s footsteps and move toward repealing the program once and for all. The stop-and-frisk program has violated the rights of many innocent citizens and is a great risk to the safety and rights of minorities in urban areas.