In 2011, the New York Police Department stopped and questioned New York citizens just over 684,000 times. Of those stopped, an astounding 87% were people of color. To put that in perspective, it is like the entire city of Baltimore was stopped by our police. Those statistics are staggering and clearly have a basis on race. On June 17th, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Local 1199 of the SEIU are holding a march to protest this ongoing harassment.
The march has been endorsed by Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride Agenda, The Task Force and Lambda Legal Defense Fund. Every LGBT person should make an attempt to attend this march.
Is this an LGBT issue? You bet. First and foremost, it is every bit an issue for our community as marriage equality was for the National NAACP. Their years of painful discrimination made it possible for them to understand our struggle to obtain full equality. With each of us having our own unique journey to overcome hatred and division, we also find a great deal of common ground in our history.
'Stop and Frisk' from the 1950's to at least the middle of the 1980's was a common procedure used by the police to harass the LGBT community. In fact, I bet there are places in the United States where that is still true. None of us who experienced that harassment will ever forget the fear and message. Police in Los Angeles for example, would wait outside gay bars and other LGBT institutions. The officers would then follow LGBT Americans who had left those places. Often the police would instigate a 'stop and frisk'. After stopping the car, they would force us to get out, bend over the hood of the car and then given needless citations.
There was only one reason for these activities by law enforcement and that was to intimidate us and keep us 'in our place.' If anyone dared to question the validity of the stop they would take that individual down to the precinct and slap them in the slammer. The LGBT community knew if stopped it was always a brisk "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" or else. Only once in my life did this happen when I was riding with a friend and I tell you it was not a fun experience. Coming out of a bar the procedure would be to first look for bashers and then for the police.....at times both were equally feared.
The LGBT community has lived through the corrupt policy of 'Stop and Frisk' and we should be the very first to line up with the communities of color to demand an end to these outrageous policies.