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Rep. Yvette D. Clarke Calls for the Protection of NY Residents’ Civil Liberties

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11) spoke out against the recent police misconduct involving New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams and the Public Advocate’s Director of Community Affairs, Kirsten John Foy, on Labor Day.  She released the following statement: 

“The police misconduct that N.Y. City Councilmember Jumaane Williams and Public Advocate Director of Community Affairs, Kirsten John Foy experienced this Labor Day was unfortunately another sad example of the culture of racial profiling and disrespect that the NYPD continues to use as a failed crime prevention strategy in communities of color

I can identify with the New Yorkers, or our constituents, who through no fault of their own have been run through our city’s criminal justice system in direct violation of their civil rights and liberties.  Members of my own family have been subjected to this and other unlawful indignities.  These police practices will never be accepted as an effective crime prevention strategy and will only continue to erode the trust required for effective law enforcement.  Law abiding citizens shouldn’t have to fear moving across this city and be subjected to random ‘stop and frisk’ pat downs and harassment by the NYPD. 

As I stated during the press conference, we are quickly moving to an apartheid situation here in the city of New York where we don’t recognize the civil liberties and the civil rights of all New Yorkers.  During apartheid, Black South Africans were required to carry I.D. in order to move from one part of South Africa to the next.  If individuals didn’t have their I.D., they were subject to harsh and unjust treatment.  Under the stop and frisk legislation, the similar kind of regulations are imposed.  Many of these individuals are law abiding citizens, many of which are African American and Latino men.

According to the NYCLU, ‘…3 million innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations from 2004 through 2010.’  In 2011 nearly 88 percent that were stop were innocent, 51 percent were Black and 33 percent were Latino.

My concern is that a law abiding citizen who happens to leave their I.D. at home will be put in our criminal system just because they were unfairly targeted and didn’t have their I.D.  This directly affects many of our young people who may not have a driver’s license or a proper I.D. placing them unnecessarily at risk of being thrown into our criminal justice system.

Now is the time for the NYPD to abandon this unconstitutional practice and implement new strategies that clearly differentiate between law-abiding citizens and the criminals that cause harm to our communities.  While I am grateful that Commissioner Raymond Kelly has called for an investigation, it is clear to me that we need a review of these practices by the U.S. Department of Justice.  For too long there has been a blind eye of acceptance to the ongoing profiling of young men in the Black and Latino communities of our city.  This acceptance is counterproductive in the on-going struggle to establish the spirit of cooperation and trust between communities of color and the NYPD.  This policy must change.”