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Southeast Queens community leaders are planning a number of town-hall meetings after a report released last week found the overwhelming majority of people stopped by the NYPD in the 103rd Precinct last year were innocent blacks and Latinos.
But as they prepared to meet, Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed to reclassify a lawsuit challenging stop-and-frisk practices as a class action suit against the city. The suit, which contends blacks and Latinos are discriminated against by the NYPD’s use of the tactic, was filed in 2008.
According to a New York Civil Liberties Union report, of the more than 17,000 individuals who were counted in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program in the 103rd Precinct in 2011, nearly 91 percent were blacks and Latinos and 88.7 percent of people stopped were neither issued a summons nor arrested.
The 103rd, which covers Hollis and downtown Jamaica, ranked eighth in the city in terms of the total number of stops and the number of those who were innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union report.
Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP, said the Police Department has failed to provide evidence that the increase in stop-and-frisk numbers have caused a decrease in crime.
“If you stop me, not because you have a reasonable suspicion, but because I’m a black man, that’s illegal and discriminatory and does not lead to a stop in crime,” he said. “In order to have a reduced crime rate, you need a positive relationship between the police in the community.”
Gadsden is planning a town hall meeting to discuss the recent numbers May 22 at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Hollis, 202-03 Hollis Ave.
The NAACP is also organizing a bus to carry protesters from the Jamaica branch, 189-26 Linden Blvd., at noon to Manhattan for a Father’s Day silent march June 17 down Fifth Avenue.
The NYCLU’s analysis found that while the number of stop-and-frisk incidents throughout the city has increased nearly sevenfold since 2003, the number of guns found has not kept pace.
In 2003, the NYPD recovered one gun for every 266 people stopped, compared to one firearm recovered for every 2,982 additional people stopped last year, according to the NYCLU.
“The NYPD’s own data undermine many of the Bloomberg administration’s justifications for the stop-and-frisk program,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Contrary to the mayor and police commissioner’s assertions, the massive spike in the number of stops has done little to remove firearms from the streets. Instead, it has violated the constitutional rights of millions of people and corroded the ability of communities of color to trust and respect the police.”
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he believed more transparency would open a dialogue between the NYPD and neighborhoods so community members feel they are not being unfairly targeted.
“They should be reporting and in consultation with the community at meetings once a month on how they’re doing and why they’re doing what they’re doing,” he said.
The councilman said he would be co-hosting a town hall meeting with state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) June 7 at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center on Linden Boulevard to discuss the city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s plan to reform the NYPD program..
“One reason [NYPD Commissioner Ray] Kelly is doing this is because he’s lost so many police personnel,” Comrie said.
Tactics such as increasing police presence and targeted sweeps, the councilman said, are more effective in removing guns from streets.
State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D- Jamaica) has also planned a town hall meeting for May 19, 11 a.m., at the Springfield Community Church, 177-06 129th Ave.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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