Stop and Frisk: Next Stop, San Francisco

Stop and Frisk.  If you are black and either live in or visit New York City or Philadelphia, “stop and frisk” may need no explanation.  It is a power given to local police departments to stop a person at random and check to make sure they are obeying the law.  Constitutionally, it should be a jaw-dropper; however, since we’re already turned “innocent until proven guilty” into a joke rather than the underlying theme of our justice system, many people just shrug their shoulders and trade away another right for the illusion of safety.  In theory, “stop and frisk” is intended to remove illegal weapons and such from the streets.  In practice, it is nothing more than another way for the police to fuck with black men and other “undesirables.”

No due process.  No just cause.  No suspicion.  Just “hey, what’s in your pockets, I’m curious and I have a badge.”

If you live in San Francisco, you may be about to get very familiar with “stop and frisk.”  From Ed over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars:

It looks like San Francisco may follow the lead of New York City and implement a stop and frisk policy. And they’re justifying it the same way, as a necessary means of getting guns off the streets.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he is considering implementing the controversial stop-and-frisk policy used in other major cities including New York and Philadelphia to reduce violent crime.

Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board Wednesday that police officers need stop-and-frisk to get guns off the streets.

“This is under consideration as a way to make sure that we keep homicides and some of these other violent crime(s) down,” Lee said. “I think we have to get to the guns. I know we have to find a different way to get to these weapons, and I’m very willing to consider what other cities are doing.”

But in NYC, only a tiny percentage of stop and frisks have found guns. And it’s becoming more and more clear that the vaunted decrease in serious crimes in NYC are at least partly the result of manipulating the data, telling officers to downgrade serious crimes to lesser ones and to not take reports from many victims while focusing on misdemeanor arrests. Bad idea all the way around.

If we keep trading away our rights for the illusion of security, pretty soon we won’t have either.

 

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