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Philly Greens Oppose Philly's Stop-and-Frisk

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""My father said if you are ever stopped by the police, you say, "Yes, Sir -- No Sir." Tell the officer what's in your wallet. Don't, don't make no sudden moves and don't run. Just get through whatever the situation is,' Nutter said. "Those lessons stuck with me.'" [See, Philadelphia Daily News, June 22, 2011, page 3.]

During 2005, Philadelphia's police made 102,319 pedestrian stops. When Michael Nutter became Mayor of Philadelphia in 2008, he ordered an increase in pedestrian stops under a policy commonly called "Stop-and-Frisk." By 2009, pedestrian stops by police had increased 148 percent to 253,333. Of that total, 72 percent of the victims were African Americans, but only 8 percent of those pedestrian stops resulted in an arrest.

I, for one, would like to know what we should call the other 92 percent of those pedestrian stops. Were those 233,066 citizens "harassed by the police?" Were they "intimidated by the police?" Or should we say, "Their rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated?"

The Green Party has a history of opposition to stop-and-frisk. Under the heading "Racial Discrimination," the Green Party national platform says, "We condemn the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies, which are guilty of stopping motorists, harassing individuals, or using unwarranted violence against suspects with no other justification than race or ethnic background."

At a Philadelphia City Council hearing on December 14, 2010, Green Party leader Hugh Giordano, who had run for PA House of Representatives, made it clear that stop-and-frisk targets, urban, minority and young citizens. "This law is a form of Jim Crow law," said Giordano, referring to discriminatory laws used to maintain segregation of the races. "It attacks a certain group of people, and the numbers and testimony shows it." Giordano also criticized Philadelphia's City Council for allowing stop-and-frisk to continue unabated.

One result of the increased harassment and intimidation ordered by Nutter was a federal lawsuit, Bailey v. City of Philadelphia, filed in U.S. District Court in November 2010. This class action suit charged that minorities were targeted by the police based upon their race and that stops by police were carried out without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

This lawsuit was resolved out of court on June 21, 2011, when Nutter announced that he would sign two Executive Orders. At the press conference, Nutter said, "Law enforcement in an urban environment demands a close working relationship between the police, the community and the citizens, the people we work for." Nutter continued, "The heart of that contract between the citizens and police is trust."

Green Party Membership Secretary Carol McLean says, "This is precisely where Greens differ from the City of Philadelphia and its Police Department. Greens believe that the heart of the contract between the citizens and police should be the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures (4th Amendment) and requires equal protection of all citizens (14th Amendment)."

Now, some citizens are wondering if Nutter's family homilies will be sufficient to prevent the violation of citizens' Constitutional Rights by the Philadelphia Police Department in the future. Perhaps something more is needed. Green Party leader Giordano has a proposal to make in this regard.

Giordano says, "The members of the Philadelphia Police Department should be instructed to provide every citizen who is stopped and frisked with a copy of Citizen's Complaint Form #75-561 (Rev.9/94). If that citizen believes he or she was harassed, intimidated or suffered a Civil Rights violation, they may then return the complaint form to Internal Affairs Division, Philadelphia Police Department, 7790 Dungan Road, Philadelphia, PA 19111." According to Giordano, " Citizens who are stopped and frisked may also file a complaint online at www.phillypolice.com/forms/official-complaint-form."

 

Chris Robinson is a graduate of Central High School (#219) in Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Germantown and is an at-large member of the Green Party of Philadelphia (www.gpop.org) City Committee. Chris Robinson is also a member of United Food and (more...)
 

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