New York's policy might indeed be reducing gun violence. But residents aren't sure it's worth the cost.
"I just got stopped like two blocks ago," said a frustrated Harlem teenager to the two police officers who approached him.
This is the first recorded audio of a New York City "stop and frisk" recorded surreptitiously by a 16-year-old brown-skinned high schooler identified only as "Alvin." Soon after, the encounter escalates into shouting.
"Why are you carrying an empty book bag?" the police ask Alvin.
"Because I had my hoodie in there. It was cold."
"You want me to smack you?"
"Why you gonna smack me?"
"Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? Shut your fucking mouth."
Quick clicks of tightening handcuffs are heard on the recording as Alvin frantically asks, "What am I getting arrested for?"
One of the policemen responds, "For being a fucking mutt."
"That's against the law, being a mutt?" Alvin asks.
"I will break your fucking arm off right now," the policeman answers.
The recording, which surfaced earlier this year on The Nation's website, enraged civil rights activists already demanding the overhaul of Stop and Frisk, a New York City Police Department program that has led to the stops and searches hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, most of whom are black or Latino, every year.
A contentious political issue, Stop and Frisk has been criticized for its targeting of minority communities. Seemingly every young black or Latino male resident of the city has his own story of being harassed by a police officer for reasons unknown or unjust. The wide net of Stop and Frisk has ensnared bankers and schoolteachers. On the other side, the program has also been praised for taking drug dealers and illegal guns off the street and dramatically lowering the city's murder rate.