New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio took a stand against the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy on Tuesday, calling it “corrosive” and “undermining of the future safety of this city.”
“I think, particularly for young men of color, it’s sending a horrible message to them that they are not part of this society in the same way,” de Blasio said on Tuesday’s Morning Joe. New York’s stop-and-frisk policy allows cops to interview and search anyone they deem suspicious, but critics say it’s institutionalized and unproductive racial profiling.
The only way to fix the program—which de Blasio said “unquestionably” violates civil liberties—is to remove the current police chief and create a ban on racial profiling, he said.
In a mayoral race marred by scandal and celebrity, stop-and-frisk has remained a key issue for the candidates. On Monday, candidate Bill Thompson also derided the practice, saying on The Daily Rundown that stop-and-frisk has “institutionalized” racial profiling.
On last week’s Morning Joe, New York Police Chief Ray Kelly called the policy “essential” and said “you can’t police without doing it.”
He pushed back against critics’ claims that the policy was affecting and alienating innocent New Yorkers.
“They need reasonable suspicion to stop and question someone,” Kelly said. “The notion that anyone stopped has done absolutely nothing wrong is not really the case.”
Yet the success rate of stop-and-frisk is increasingly questioned. A federal judge is currently deciding on the constitutionality of the policy.
“What troubles me is the fact that the suspicion seems to be wrong 90% of the time,” the judge, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said during closing arguments of that trial. “That’s a high error rate.”
Kelly has the support of just one leading mayoral candidate, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. But even she has said that in its current intensity and magnitude, the stop-and-frisk policy is “unconstitutional” and “out of control.”
In the days since news of mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s continued online liaisons, de Blasio has skyrocketed in the polls at the former congressman’s expense.
As for what it’s like to run for mayor in a limelight-filled race?
“The sideshow needs to end,” de Blasio said. “Look at the front pages, we’re not talking about issues.”