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'End Stop and Frisk' silent march planned

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous is joined by

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous is joined by civil rights leaders and elected officials at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers to announce a march against the NYPD's stop and frisk policy. (May 15, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

Thousands are expected to silently march on Fifth Avenue on Father's Day to demand a halt of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program, in which police stop and search people they deem suspicious.

Union, religious and civil rights leaders Tuesday announced a "Silent March to End Stop and Frisk."

This is "a humiliating policy that affects thousands of New Yorkers and a creates a racial division," Benjamin Jealous, NAACP president, said at a news conference in Manhattan.

"This is a civil rights -- a human rights crisis -- that is based on a lie that stop and frisk has made the city safer," Jealous said.

"We are lining up our ranks in the thousands; walking shoulder to shoulder; standing together to demand an end to the stop-and-frisk," said Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York.

His group has been a vocal critic of the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods.

ACLU statistics show that nine out of 10 people stopped "are totally innocent," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. They are neither arrested nor given a ticket, she said. In 99.9 percent of the stops, she said, no guns are retrieved.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have contended that the stop-and-frisk program has helped to keep guns off the streets and crime levels at an all-time low. Neither officials at the NYPD nor the mayor's office responded Tuesday to questions about the planned protest.

However, last Thursday, Bloomberg rebutted the ACLU's 99.9 percent gun-retrieval statistic. The stop-and-frisk policy, Bloomberg said, "is a deterrent that keeps guns off the streets. People are not carrying guns." He also said the crime rate had decreased by 35 percent in the past 10 years.

According to ACLU statistics, black and Latino males ages 14 to 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of the stop-and-frisks in 2011."This is racial profiling and it is out of control," Lieberman said. "We are sick and tired of teaching our teenagers, who are subjected to being bullied by police, to turn the other cheek when they are treated like criminals when they have done nothing wrong."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, said the silent march was scheduled for Father's Day because "it is our fathers and sons who are the causalities of these stop and frisks. This is a crime that targets race."

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