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A Letter to the NYPD, For the Love Of Our Families

As a new mother who spends of most of her evenings quietly at home, with her husband and toddler son, I am particularly grateful to the New York Civil Liberties Union for their most recent lawsuit against the NYPD, filed January 20th in the NY State Supreme Court. Aimed at curtailing the “stop-and-frisk” policing policies which seem to have migrated from our street corners into our homes, the lawsuit targets the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” program in private buildings. Most New Yorkers don’t even know that stop-and-frisk practices can literally await you on your doorstep. I didn’t know until my husband was stopped- and frisked- on his way back from throwing away the garbage one evening after dinner. In a just or moral society, a young father in sweatpants and slippers wouldn’t appear threatening or suspect as he enters his apartment building, keys in hand. In the case of my husband, a mundane domestic chore turned into a stop-and-frisk-interrogation in the hallway of the apartment building where we pay rent to live in peace. I waited anxiously for over an hour and a half.

When he finally made it home, he called 311 and the Citizen Complaint Review Board. We haven’t heard back. It may be because he was so livid from the experience that he hung up after fifty full minutes on hold. Police complaints aren’t top priority for 311. And for us, they are nothing new. This complaint wouldn’t be much different from the one he should have filed last summer when three Latino cops followed him down the block, plotting his arrest in Spanish, all the while assuming that he was African-American. Well, he is Black, but he happens to be Latino and speak fluent Spanish. Only his recognition of one of the officers, whom he actually knew from childhood, saved him an arrest.

Unfortunately, most Black and Brown men and boys in New York City don’t get saved from those arrests. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, Blacks and Latinos made up 85% of the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” arrests in 2011. According to the Village Voice, most of that 85% were males ages 15 to 24. My husband is 33, so I guess that he and a smaller number of women of color and elder men of color account for the remainder of that 85%.

This type of systemic abuse of boys and men of color is an assault on our entire community. This form of institutionally-sanctioned violence and cruelty is a relic of enslavement in the United States, built into our justice system, which seeks to emasculate our men, terrorize our women, and ultimately, destroy our families. While only 9% of those stop-and-frisk episodes yield arrest, the impact on communities of color is lasting. Our men and women continue to be fed into the prison industrial complex. Our children continue to be fodder for the school to prison pipeline, as educational inequity permeates every cell of a public education which has nearly obliterated academic success for students of color. Our families continue to live with the undue burden of fear, anxiety, and dislocation in our very own homes.

As a daughter, sister, mother, and wife, I know how painful it is to watch the men in my family brutalized needlessly. All of the men in my family, with the exception of my youngest brother and toddler son, have experienced some form of brutalization by the police. Fortunately, they are all alive. Unfortunately, the NYPD’s excessive use of force and insistence on terrorizing the communities of color persists. Born and bred in New York, I remember the deaths of Anthony Baez, Anibal Carrasquillo, Yong Xin Huang, Anthony Rosario, Hilton Vega, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and most recently, 18 year old, Ramarley Graham. For them, and the two pristine young lives we have managed to salvage in my family, racial profiling and police brutality in this city must end.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

micheleweldon's picture

Great piece!

A compelling call to action with strong evidence. Very good piece.
Michele

Michele Weldon
Author, Journalist, Northwestern University Medill School Assistant Professor,
Workshop Instructor, Keynoter, Multimedia Expert
michele@theopedproject.org
www.micheleweldon.com
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-weldon
www.wrestli

Stella Paul's picture

Be proud!

Dear Malba

I remember you writing, after your module 2, that you were not satisfied with your post.Well, my friend, after this piece, you should be both satisfied and proud! I have learned quite a bit about the colored community from your post! Thanks so much!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Great OpEd! I particularly love the way you express how the 'stop-and-frisk' policing policy negatively affects men of different color, of different ages, and how it directly affects the lives of women and families too. You were able to express how by going against this unjust practice, many members of your community would benefit positively.

By the way, you are one of my favorite VOF correspondents. Seriously, I love the way you write about social justice, equality and the negative aspects of racial profiling. Keep up the excellent work!!!

malba66's picture

Thank you all! Stella: I am

Thank you all!

Stella: I am so glad that we have a place to exchange!

Rahel: I am so grateful that my work reaches you!

I am so looking forward to the rest of this journey with you all!

Peace & Light,
Mari

usha kc's picture

Dear Malba, you touched me

Dear Malba, you touched me . I can feel your pain given by stop and frisk program. The way you have presented is invoking.
loved it dear.
don't stop to speak up,
:))
hugs

noreens's picture

Good article, Mari! Your

Good article, Mari! Your frustration is very clear and understandable. I would think that the stop and frisk policy would keep people on guard, and put them in constant fear of what might happen. What happened to your husband is inexcusable.

Noreen

Julie Tomlin's picture

Powerfully written

A very strong piece of writing that really flows well and conveys the frustration and injustice you are witness to..
Really pleased - you came up with such a powerful piece of work.

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

Robin Athey's picture

Very strong piece ~ thank you, Mari

Dear Mari,

I so appreciate the power and clarity of your piece. I'm sad that it's born of direct experience -- and grateful that your voice is emerging out of this experience.

I really like how you've woven together different levels of the issue of "stop and frisk" policies -- the impact it has had on you, your family, your community, and the system at large. I also like how you've balanced the piece between subjective (the personal, more emotional aspects of these policies) and objective (the facts).

Your listing the names of men who have perished due to profiling and police brutality sends home the message. It also reminds me how (as a relatively privileged Anglo woman), I still see these issues from a distance, in my imagination, even after over a decade living in NYC.

Thank you for revealing your own strength through your words. May your voice inspire many women around you, as it inspires me. Will you publish your piece beyond World Pulse?

Gratefully,

Robin

mrbeckbeck's picture

Well done

Wonderful Op-ed! It's outrageous that your husband experienced this while in his slippers... I think it's a perfect example to bring the injustice of the practice to everyone's consciousness.

Great work combining personal stories, and researched statistics. I would have liked to see you present and refute the opposing viewpoint (that the stop-and-frisk is a good idea), just to strengthen your own argument. But, all in all, I really think this is a great piece and hope you pitch it around your city!

Best,
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Powerful voice!

What a powerful voice you have in your Op-Ed! I feel informed and passionate after reading this, and hope to raise more awareness in our community about "random" traffic stops that seem to primarily happen to anyone with brown skin. Thank you for sharing this story!

Leslie

Leslie Stoupas

Greengirl's picture

Great Piece Malba

It is frightening to think that the very people who are supposed to protect people, turn around and terrorize them for no just cause.

It breaks my heart too, that many have lost their freedom and worst still lost their lives because of the excesses of the NYPD. Racial discrimination and injustice in any form must be condemned in its entirety. I look forward to knowing the outcome of the New York Civil Liberties Union's law suit against the NYPD.

You did a good job bringing the situation to global awareness.

Olanike

Hi Marinieves,

I just saw this morning that the New York Civil Liberties Union has released a mobile phone app to track incidences of these violating Stop and Frisk stops.

Here's the article with more information: http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-releases-stop-and-frisk-watch-phone-app-...

Thinking of you, and wishing you all the best!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

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