Stop-and-Frisk

I did nothing wrong
I broke no law
I joined no gang
Except I wore a hoodie
And hid my black face in it
As I walked to the train last night—
For that I was stopped and frisked.

Thanks to my color-hood;
It got me profiled
Though I did nothing wrong.

But I will never stop wearing
Neither my face nor my hoodie
Let them stop-and-frisk me
Again and again and again…
Nor will I stop going to the train.

***

Haiku Form:

Wearing a hoodie
Walked in a cold winter night
Stopped and frisked so sad

***

I wrote this after I was stopped and frisked last night. I was very upset because 1) the police lied their reason to stop-and-frisk me; they said I didn’t pay entering the subway, but I did indeed pay. I have never skipped. Why should I? I always have a monthly pass! It was the most stupid reason ever. They thought I had no idea what was happening. I knew the metro fare was not the real issue why I was stopped and frisked. When I went to the train station, they were not even there; they came after I entered. 2) They decided to stop and frisk me because they suspected I was carrying gun—that was the obvious reason; the rest was a stupid cover up.

In New York City, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, racial profiling is rife in the name of gun control, which is the reason the New York Police Department came up with the “stop-and-frisk” campaign. The mayor of the city and the police department claim the campaign has helped them “clean the streets.” But who gets stopped and frisked more than 80% of the time? People of African and Hispanic background. And that is the reason the ACLU accuse the police of racial profiling, illegally stopping innocents and breaching privacy rights.

Though you may be a law abiding citizen or resident, you have a higher chance of getting stopped and frisked because you happen to have the “wrong color” and wear a certain type of clothing—the ugly side of USA, despite its many great things. How does that make me feel? Sad for sure. But more sad is that many young black and hispanic men end up in jail because they fight with the police, provoked by this unjust and unfair practice.

According to Center for Constitutional Rights:

In 2011, in New York City, 685,724 people were stopped, 84 percent of whom were Black and Latino residents β€” although they comprise only about 23 percent and 29 percent of New York City’s total population respectively. 2011 is the highest year on record for stops. The number of stops represent an over 600 percent since Mayor Bloomberg came into office. In 2011, 88 percent of all stops did not result in an arrest or a summons being given. Contraband was found in only 2 percent of all stops. The NYPD claims their stop and frisk policy keeps weapons off the street – but weapons were recovered in only one percent of all stops. These numbers clearly contradict that claim.

I learned early on that the best thing to do when the police confront you is to cooperate and remain polite, though you know what they are doing is wrong because if you resist or bad-mouth them then they can use that to harass and arrest you. So I cooperated and they left me alone wishing me to have a “good night.” Right!

P.s. The police have this motto: If you see something, say something. And that is what I have tried to do here in this post. This is my first ever experience in NYC and in US in general. But I knew before that soon or later I would become another statistics. The good news is I am not alone. There are groups who are actively fighting this unfair system, groups such as the ACLU. You can go to their website and learn more about Stop-and-Frisk. You can also download the “Stop and Frisk” iphone and android app to record and report when you witness someone being stopped and frisked.

Happy New Year, my friends!! Don’t let bad experiences ruin your festive moods. πŸ™‚

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