MOTT HAVEN – Several dozen protestors marched along Third Avenue on Friday to call attention to the police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which marchers denounced as racist and destructive to communities.
The march, which stopped at a police precinct and ended at a local playground, was organized by a coalition of activist groups called the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Last year, the network staged similar events in Brooklyn, Queens and Harlem, where dozens of protestors, including academic and activist Cornel West, were arrested in October.
"Stop and frisk is unconstitutional, illegal, racist and it has to be stopped," said Carl Dix, one of the event organizers and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
One marcher, Kafahni Nkrumah, a criminal defense attorney, claimed he had been stopped and frisked twice by police — once when he was leaving his apartment building and once while walking his dog.
"Stop and frisk is destroying the relationship between the police and minority communities,” Nkrumah said.
A bystander, Roberto Rodriguez, watched the protestors from a storefront. He told his wife that he should join the march to oppose the police policy, which he called racist.
“In their law, white is right,” Rodriguez said.
The NYPD conducted 451,000 warrantless stops during the first three quarters of 2011 and has stopped more than 4 million New Yorkers since 2004, according to a report in November by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The vast majority of people stopped, roughly 85 percent, were black or Latino, and 88 percent of stops did not result in arrests or tickets, the report said.
The NYPD has said its stop, question and frisk policy helps remove illegal weapons from the streets and has contributed to the significant decrease in crime over the past decade.
After the marchers paused for a few speeches outside the 42nd Precinct station at Third and Washington avenues, the group continued through a heavy downpour — and were accompanied by blue-jacketed NYPD Community Affairs officers — to a playground next to a school at 270 E. 167th St.
At the playground, a group of sixth-grade students ventured over from the Bronx Writing Academy and listened to some protestors condemn the policy. Then, a couple of the boys told the crowd stories about times they had been confronted by police officers.
"This year at Halloween, the police were checking everybody’s bags," said Souleman, an 11-year-old who did not give his last name.
He said he thought the police assumed that because he is a young black male, he had drugs on him.
"I don’t do drugs," Souleman said. "My mom would kill me if I did drugs."