The head of the NAACP said Sunday that even some members of the New York Police Department oppose the city's policy of street stops, with mostly minorities being questioned.
Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told the congregation of the Nazarene Congregational Church in Brooklyn that the civil rights group is hearing from its members who are NYPD officers.
Addressing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was not present, "I ask you, before you leave, repair the damage you have done," Jealous said from the pulpit. "Kids in this city are too afraid of the very people who have sworn to respect and protect them."
At his State of the City address several days ago, the mayor "felt the need to evangelize what he sees as the value of the stop-and-frisk program," Jealous said.
He said his speech Sunday was intended as a direct response to the mayor's "fear-mongering."
The NYPD's practice of stopping, questioning and sometimes frisking hundreds of thousands of people on city streets each year has received widespread criticism. Officials say the technique deters crime. Critics say the stops intimidate innocent people and raise issues of racial profiling.
There's "no statistical relationship between stop-and-frisk and New York City's steadily dropping crime rate," said Jealous, adding that there's "increasing discomfort among the rank-and-file of the NYPD about this policy."
Police officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Jealous' remarks as leader of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.
As Bloomberg's third, and last, term nears its end in January, the NAACP leader said he expects the city's new mayor to oppose stop-and-frisk tactics, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat announced recently that he's working to help stop the practice.
If the new mayor doesn't do that, too, Jealous vowed that "we'll do a lot more than march."