The Stigma of “Stop and Frisk”

jjenkins  |June 15, 2012


“The first time I was stopped, I was 11 or 12… I remember my heart beating a thousand miles a minute.  I got into my position on the ground in front of the cops and I compared it to TV and I thought, oh, I’m the bad guy!  … And I began to feel ashamed.”

Beginning with this experience, Frantz Jerome has been stopped and frisked by New York City police officers at least twenty times.  And he is not the only one.  Last year, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, New York City police officers stopped and frisked people on the street 685,724 times.  88% of those stopped turned out to be completely innocent.  And 89% were Black or Latino.

Frantz recounts his harrowing experiences of being unjustly stopped and detained by the police in the short film Stigma, which you can watch for free online at the Yale Visual Law Project’s website.  Groundswell director Valarie Kaur and volunteer Ally Lamb worked with a team to make the film last year.  A recent New York Times article also profiles another young New Yorker who has been stopped and frisked by the NYPD sixty times, even arrested and jailed for hours on several occasions simply for asking why he was being stopped.

We at Groundswell believe it’s wrong to profile anyone because of their skin color or perceived race or ethnicity.  It’s stigmatizing and dehumanizing.  And when whole communities come to fear and resent encounters with the police, it makes everyone less safe.  That’s why we’re joining faith, civil rights, labor and community groups this Sunday, Father’s Day, in a silent march against racial profiling.  The march will gather starting at 1pm and will depart at 3pm from 110th Street between 5th Ave and Lenox.  We hope you can join us in building a groundswell to protect our youth from the stigma of racial profiling.