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Council pushes ban on racial bias in NYPD

The Rev. Al Sharpton

The Rev. Al Sharpton (Credit: Rev. Al Sharpton (Getty Images))

The Rev. Al Sharpton Tuesday said racial bias in New York policing allows “criminals to escape” at a rally in support of a City Council NYPD-reform bill.

Sharpton urged passage of a legislative package called the Community Safety Act that would ban racial and religious profiling.

The bill has become the main public-safety issue in the 2013 mayoral election for its provision creating an independent NYPD monitor in response to the proliferation of stop-and-frisk tactics predominantly used on black and Hispanic New Yorkers.

“As long as you are profiling, then criminals who don't fit the profile can operate without any fear,” Sharpton said.

“Any candidate that wants to be taken seriously for mayor should come out in support of this strongly and unequivocally,” he added.

On the steps of City Hall, Sharpton joined the bill's main sponsors, councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander, who stressed that the ban on profiling is a critical component of the package Community Safety Act.

“This would be the first enforceable bill on racial profiling,” said Williams, who represents Flatbush.

The Community Safety Act is still being negotiated between its Council supporters and Speaker Christine Quinn, who wants to create an inspector general for the NYPD.

“The profiling bill is extremely important” to the legislative package, Williams said.

Lander saidminorities in Park Slope, which he represents, make up a majority of those stopped by police in the neighborhood, yet make up less than a quarter of the population.

“We cannot keep our neighborhoods safe by violating the fundamental civil rights of our neighbors,” Lander said.

Provisions in the Community Safety Act are still being negotiated between its Council supporters-eight of whom joined the City Hall rally-and Speaker Christine Quinn, who backed an independent monitor for the NYPD.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to request for comment on the profiling ban, but police spokesman Paul Browne dismissed the concept of aninspector general last month, saying that “no police department in America has more oversight than the NYPD.”

NAACP president Ben Jealous at the rally denounced the relationship between racial profiling and targets of stop-and-frisk.

“Stop-and-frisk is the largest local racial-profiling program in the country,” he said. “Shutting it down is a national priority for the NAACP.”

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