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Prof. Paul Butler Talks about Stop and Frisk

Friday, April 12, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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On April 11, 2013, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) sponsored a discussion with Georgetown University Prof. Paul Butler comparing stop and frisk policies used by the police to torture. The policy is widely embraced by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Police Department (NYPD). In fact, the NYPD instituted a quota system for police officers saying they must perform a minimum of 10 stop and frisks a month. Based upon data compiled by the NYPD, stop and frisk is concentrated in black and Latino neighborhoods, and leads to very few arrests.

Prof. Butler talked about the legal precedent set in Terry v. Ohio (1968), whereby law enforcement was given wide latitude to stop and frisk someone if they had a reasonable suspicion they are involved in a crime. He then compared stop and frisk to torture since it uses the same psychological and physical techniques employed in the "War on Terror." He also likened the policy to sexual harassment, with police participating as voyeurs. Prof. Butler added that the more a person is arrested, the less likely s/he will participate in civil society including voting and serving on a jury.

Prof. Butler concluded by discussing various actions to put an end to stop and frisk. During the height of Occupy Wall Street, there were several actions staged to occupy the police precinct in Harlem. Though all of the current candidates running for Mayor on the Democratic ticket in NYC support doing away with stop and frisk, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD still support the policy. Prof. Butler said we must ensure police departments understand that the policy is violent.

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