author – activist – faculty – mom
In the recent presidential debates, Donald Trump proposed wider implementation of the racist and failed stop-and-frisk strategy, and lied about its effectiveness.
I recall in the late 80s and early 90s, being part of an African American community organizing group called Free My People that opposed stop-and-frisk. In our group, nearly every young black man had been targeted with the policy.*
At the time, the crack cocaine epidemic was in full swing. Even though the National Institute for Drug Abuse’s own statistics show that the majority of people who smoked crack in the US were white, the drug has been consistently associated with African Americans. In part, due to selective policing, which guaranteed that street-based sales of the drug would be nearly exclusively in our communities. And thus, in urban areas, the devastating effects of violence associated with the sales of crack would impact low income communities almost exclusively.
As Free My People pointed out, there were no coca plants in Roxbury, but the Contra Drug Scandal was exposed, revealing that the drugs were imported by federal authorities as part of our foreign policy that targeted sovereign nations in Latin America.
So Roxbury was plagued with shootings related to turf wars, and the solution was police war on our communities. Stop-and-frisk was a police policy of stopping anyone who looked “suspicious” (which meant young men of color) and frisking them in case they had a firearm.
However, there was another dynamic going on at the time. When police would approach young people who were selling crack, the dealers would put the drugs in their underwear where police were more reluctant to search. Ultimately, the implementation of stop and frisk became a nightmarish blend of the two policies. The police would stop young black (and Latino) men on the street, and pull their pants down in the street. Stop-and-frisk became a public strip search, a pattern of domination and humiliation in communities of color.
The Boston policy in the 80s and 90s was particularly awful, but stop-and-frisk in general is an open door to police abuse. It’s sickening that Donald Trump would suggest it. But what else do we expect from the white supremacy candidate? I look forward to watching him get his ass kicked in the November election. Please vote him down.
*In many instances of police violence against black people, the issue is framed as if it only targets black men. As we have seen in cases from Sandra Bland to Daniel Holtzclaw, this is not the case. With the Boston version of stop-and-frisk, however, I only knew men who had been targeted. I knew a black lesbian whose gender presentation was pretty butch. The police tried to pull down her pants, and she yelled that she was a woman, and they stopped. But overall, being female is in no way a protection against police abuse.