This week a judge ruled that the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional, and that the city had engaged in indirect racial profiling. "It's indirect racial profiling," John Oliver repeated. "It's like a cop saying 'Should we go frisk people outside the Apollo or outside the Jimmy Buffet concert? Tell you what, let's flip a coin, then head up to Harlem.'" The ruling went on to say that black people were 20 percent more likely to be stopped for furtive movements, even though "there's no evidence that black people's movements are objectively more furtive than the movements of white people."
While some New Yorkers, including "minorities who happen to like walking" as Oliver put it, may be pleased with the ruling, there's at least one guy in the city who isn't. Mayor Bloomberg said during a press conference that he thought the policy "wasn't getting a fair trial," which Oliver found kind of unbelievable. "Hold on. You think this program is getting unfairly stopped and scrutinized, even though it's done nothing wrong?" Oliver asked. "I think I know millions of blacks and Latinos in this city who know exactly how you feel." Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said those being stopped and frisked should just cooperate and accept it as a fact of urban life. Oliver aired clips of people describing their stop-and-frisk experiences: people mentioned being shouted at by police officers brandishing guns and being touched "everywhere."
"You know what, I actually think I get it now," Oliver said. "For a moment, let me just address the white people. You know how we feel at the airport, when the TSA is patting us down, unnecessarily delaying us, looking for weapons we obviously don't have? Well imagine your entire neighborhood is terminal B at LaGuardia, and the TSA agents sometimes talk to you like this: 'Um, boarding pass please and what the f*** are you looking at?'"
Later on in the show, senior correspondent Jessica Williams went to the White Bronx a.k.a. Business Harlem a.k.a. Wall Street. "It is a hard fact that white collar crime is disproportionately committed by people who fit a certain profile," Williams said. "So if you're a, say, white, Upper East Side billionaire with ties to the financial industry like Michael Bloomberg, you've just gotta accept being roughed up by the police every once in a while." Somehow we don't see that happening.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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