Before you listen to armed public employees detain and abuse a 17-year-old Harlem boy, calling him a "f------ mutt" and threatening to break his arm, here are some necessary bits of context.
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Innocent people are daily stopped by police on the streets of New York, shoved up against a car or a wall, and told that if they verbally complain they'll be physically assaulted on the spot. It's official NYPD policy to temporarily detain and frisk pedestrians who aren't committing any crime. The threats and other abusive behavior aren't officially sanctioned but happen all the time.
The stops themselves happen more than 1,800 times per day.
Innocent citizens, who make up 88 percent of those stopped, are often insulted, berated and humiliated. Despite knowing all this, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly insist that "Stop and Frisk" ought to continue. They can do so relatively secure in the knowledge that the people they know and love will never be subject to the policy, for wealthy people are stopped very rarely, and people with black or brown skin make up almost 90 percent of the stops. As a hoodie-and-jeans wearing grad student, I spent countless hours walking in Flatbush, Park Slope, Morningside Heights, and the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, often doing so late at night. NYPD officers never so much as indicated that they noticed me. Had I done the same thing while black or Latino I'd almost certainly have been stopped and frisked.