In a move seen as a breakthrough, LGBT organizations are joining in the coalition against the practice of “Stop and Frisk” by the New York City Police Department.
“Stop and Frisk” has been widely condemned for racial profiling, as it overwhelmingly targets black and Hispanic people. It has also been criticized as worse than ineffective — as destructive in engaging communities with crime fighting and as a waste of resources. Over nine out of ten stops result in no further action and most arrests are for minor drug possession.
On her Sunday MSNBC show, Melissa Harris-Perry spoke with three young black New Yorkers, all high school seniors, and who had all had humiliating experiences with police. Says C.J. Morrison:
They just look at you and assume you’re doing something wrong, all the time.
George Nunez, now at Georgetown University, said:
They start to build this reputation so that kids will hate them. They can aggravate students and the youth to where they won’t necessarily trust in cops. Why do you visualize us as suspects when we’re potentially doing well in school?
June 7 in The Jacksonville Heights neighborhood of Queens, local LGBT groups joined a protest there against the practice.
When they are stopped, you know, and frisked, they usually suffer physical violence, verbal harassment, often times, you know, groping of their genitals
Nicole Teyuca, who spoke out against the stop-and-frisk policy at the protest, said:
They just like, ‘are you man or woman?’ And I’m like ‘what do you want me to be?’ In that moment, they just got out of the car, put me against the wall and they tell me you are under arrest.
In a press conference, held outside the historic Stonewall Inn June 5 with black and Hispanic leaders, major state and national LGBT groups endorsed a march this Sunday in New York that is expected to attract huge crowds.
Watch the June 5 press conference:
Stephen Thrasher in the Village Voice explained why “Stop and Frisk” is an LGBT issue:
There is a misperception in the media, unfair and untrue but undeniably present, that being gay in America is all about being a rich, white guy living a kind of Will & Grace Manhattan fantasy. (Joe Biden even cited Will & Grace when he inadvertently pushed President Obama to embrace marriage equality.) Of course, gay America includes black America, and Hispanic America, and poor America, and their children. These are overlapping, not disparate, groups.
Gay young men in New York City — and those living on our streets are disproportionately LGBT, black and Latino — are affected by stop and frisk. The ballroom kids of the Bronx, the Westside piers and the kids we see vogueing near the Voice offices outside of the Hettrick Martin Institute are exactly the demographic most likely to be hurt by stop and frisk’s discriminatory practices.
There is no black and brown versus gay divide, because black and brown people are gay people, and gay people are brown and black.
He cites the experience of Harvey Milk in building coalitions in San Francisco and explains that “Gay Inc” has recently been seen as concentrating solely on issues which aren’t necessarily priorities for all LGBT people:
It’s much easier to have a gala for a happy cause like marriage than it is to address the complicated and depressing topics of homelessness, poverty, joblessness, drug use and sex work that can be more pressing challenges for the city’s young black and Latino LGBT youth than the right to marry.
Image: NY1.com screengrab