Weekend News Cafe

The NYPD, people of color and the Buffalo connection

Reports that New York City police have been spying on Muslims in the Buffalo area – without notifying the feds – fits a pattern that is coming under increasing criticism.

The NYPA has an aggressive stop-and-frisk policy in NYC that targets men of color.

Reports The New York Times:

The Police Department has said that it conducted a record 684,330 stops last year, and that 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic.

One target wrote about his experience of being stopped five times by the police:

These experiences changed the way I felt about the police. After the third incident I worried when police cars drove by; I was afraid I would be stopped and searched or that something worse would happen. I dress better if I go downtown. I don’t hang out with friends outside my neighborhood in Harlem as much as I used to. Essentially, I incorporated into my daily life the sense that I might find myself up against a wall or on the ground with an officer’s gun at my head. For a black man in his 20s like me, it’s just a fact of life in New York.

Here are a few other facts: last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos. Police are far more likely to use force when stopping blacks or Latinos than whites. In half the stops police cite the vague “furtive movements” as the reason for the stop. Maybe black and brown people just look more furtive, whatever that means. These stops are part of a larger, more widespread problem — a racially discriminatory system of stop-and-frisk in the N.Y.P.D. The police use the excuse that they’re fighting crime to continue the practice, but no one has ever actually proved that it reduces crime or makes the city safer. Those of us who live in the neighborhoods where stop-and-frisks are a basic fact of daily life don’t feel safer as a result.

We need change. When I was young I thought cops were cool. They had a respectable and honorable job to keep people safe and fight crime. Now, I think their tactics are unfair and they abuse their authority. The police should consider the consequences of a generation of young people who want nothing to do with them — distrust, alienation and more crime.

Some minority lawmakers are pushing back:

Black and Latino lawmakers, fed up over the frequency with which New York City police officers are stopping and frisking minority men, are battling what they say is a racial divide as they push legislation to rein in the practice.

NYPD officials, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are standing firm with regards to both the surveillance of Muslims and the stop-and-frisk policy. This follows criticism over police conduct during this winter’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Golisano takes a bath

Paychex founder and former Sabres owner Tom Golisano moved out of New York a couple of years ago to avoid its tax burden, but it’s come at a price. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports a house he owns in suburban Rochester that he sunk $6 million into has sold for $1.35 million.

Lightning Rod Waston strikes again

Buffalo News columnist had another spot on column the past week on the apathy that plagues Western New York.

For all of the complaining Buffalonians do from the sidelines, when it comes time to jump in and get active, too many are no-shows too often. The search for a new superintendent is just the latest— and most glaring—example …

Buffalo’s Jim Anderson, Citizen Action of New York vice president, has two explanations: local leaders and the people who elect them.

Anderson, who hosts a WUFO radio show that tries to get people engaged, argues that leadership here fails to effectively communicate or keep residents informed, and that this is “not by accident, it’s by design.” The result is that elected officials then get to follow their own agenda, absent one dictated by citizens. ..

Call it apathy or call it disillusionment, the effect is the same. And the end result is civic passivity in the face of a fundamental social truth: Things don’t just change; people have to change them.

Sites we like

Daily Beast is a mix of sass and good journalism, all smartly packaged. Its Cheat Sheet gives a good overview of the top stories of the day.

 Makes a lot of people wanna holler

I lived in Florida for six years in the 1980s, not too far from Sanford and the scene of the sad, tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. I’ll leave you with a tune from Marvin Gaye.

Stop back Monday.