At the New York City Mission Society/Miniskin, our Law & Justice center started working with the youth in Harlem. We provided them counseling, and educated them what we felt needed the most; how they can avoid stop & frisk situations.
The Stop & Frisk situation is getting worse in New York City. The New York Civil Liberties Union recently published a report in which they analyzed that between Jan 2006 and march 2010, the police made about 52,000 stops and only a small percentage of those arrests proved to be guilty, rest were all dismissed. The results were published in the New York Times newspaper on July 11, 2010 focusing on certain neighborhood and describing that how the situation became so uncomfortable for people of all ages.
Just After the release of this report, we were able to organize a workshop for Harlem youth which were among the worst victim of stop & frisk, living in the Harlem neighborhood. At the workshop, it was clear that those youth ages 13-18 were very frustrated of the situations. We heard many incidents in which they were stopped and frisked. Also, we were clearly able to see that how these youth were unaware of their rights while being stopped by a policeman. That was one of the main goal which our center is focusing on. Educating these youth about their rights is so important. In order to provide them with a better understanding of their legal rights we arranged another workshop for these youth at the Neighborhood defender services at Lenon Avenue where a criminal defense attorney Thomas Geovanni who was going to talk about handling a stop & frisk situations and the best reactions of youth when a policeman stops them.
The New York Times article came at a perfect time when we are working for almost the same purpose. We were under a process to analyze the stop and frisk data given to us by the NYCLU. Two days after the nytimes article, Governer David A. Paterson signed a bill limiting Stop and Frisk Data. The bill states that, ” Police officials in New York City can no longer electronically store the names and addresses of people stopped in the street to be questioned but found to have done nothing wrong”.
We believed this was a very positive step taken up by the governor which will help resolving many issues.
I will provide the details of the meeting at NDS in my next post.