Last year during the Netroots convention in Providence, Rhode Island, activist, comedian radio host Elon James White had grown weary of the Stop and Frisk practice that was being disproportionately being applied by NYPD to Black and Brown folks in New York City. He was acutely aware of it in his Brooklyn neighborhood which has been undergoing a lot of gentrification and noted that his Bed-Stuy neighborhood was suddenly playing host to swarms of police who were never present when he was growing up, but suddenly seemed to be there to ‘protect and serve’ the new more affluent residents who were moving in..
Elon decided to put his activism to work by doing more than speaking out and raising awareness via his radio show. He teamed up with Pittsburgh rapper/ activist Jasiri X who was growing weary of similar practices in his Pittsburgh neighborhood which had resulted in some high-profile cases of innocent people being severely beaten by police. One such case was that of Jordan Miles, an honor student and master violinist who performed for the First Lady Michele Obama.
Jordan Miles is a 18 year old violinist who played for First Lady Michele Obama
The 3 undercover cops dubbed the Jump Out Boys spotted Miles en route to his grandmother’s house. They saw Miles jumped out and demanded to know where his drugs and money was at. Fearing he was about to be robbed, because the cops never identified themselves, he ran.. The cops all martial arts experts, tackled him and beat him so bad that his mother didn’t recognize him. His flowing dreadlocks were pulled out on the left side of his head and Miles was left traumatized. In spite large protests and rallies, the cops were let off the hook with the police chief telling Jordan he should never run from police. The family is suing the department.
Incidents like these helped inform Jasiri X who was tapped by Elon to do a remake of a popular song done by the late Notorious BIG called 10 Crack Commandments. Elon wanted to see a song called the 10 Frisk Commandments. The purpose was to both raise awareness as well as give solid instructions to folks as to what to do if they encountered police during Stop-N-Frisk. The end result was this masterpiece of a song shown with a compelling video that Elon shot which is featured below..
In recent weeks Stop and Frisk has been in the headlines with the recent shooting death of Brooklyn resident Kamani Gray which touched off 3 days of unrest. Gray was accused of running when plain clothes approached him to stop and Frisk. Police say Gray had a gun. Witnesses say he did not.. The shooting brought Stop and Frisk to the forefront of conversation.. Not too long after New York City acknowledged it had stopped over 5 million people with over 90% of them being Black or Brown with less than 10% found to be in violation of any law..
Raymond Kelly NYPD
Stop and Frisk also wound up being put on trial where it was discovered through a number of police officers testifying that they had been ordered to meet quotas and to target particular types of people. This outraged Black and Brown New Yorkers.. Instead of trying to reduce tensions and make corrections.. NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly doubled down and said that Black people commit 70% of crimes and thus they need to be stopped and frisked even more. The judge presiding over the trial expressed grave concerns about the practice and the fact that so many innocent people have been stopped some with fatal consequence.
The case of RamarleyGraham of the Bronx is one glaring example. The cops responsible for killing an unarmed Graham who did not run and was shot and killed in front of mother and his 6 year old brother were just let off..
With all this swirling around Elon decided to involves scores of people from around the country to do a remix of the 10 Frisk Commandments. We sat down with Elon and he explained that this is not just a New York problem. It takes on different names in other parts of the country including ‘Driving While Black‘, ‘Walking while Black‘ etc.. he felt it was important to connect the dots and look at some of the underlying causes behind this practice.. During our Hard Knock Radio interview, Elon talked at length about gentrification and what that has meant for Black and Brown Brooklyn residents like himself. He also gives a full break down of what went into the remix of 10 Frisk Commandments
This is a recent article by John Knefel that first appeared inAlternet... It’s called 10 Outrageous Tactics Cops Get Away With. This will probably be one of the most sobering and important pieces you read all year.. I hope folks will take heed and truly understand whats happening right now.. There’s been a serious power grab right before us and very little push back, because folks are distracted or feel it won’t happen to them. many others have grown cynical and see the possibility of change as useless.. Whats useless is believing you can’t change things.. The first step in that is awareness followed by action.. That actions takes many forms.. It ranges from organizing and advocating to voting to harsh refusals to allow business to go on as usual..
As you are reading the article, below you may want to listen to this speech given in August 2008 by former political prisoner and Black Panther Dhoruba Bin Wahad, where he talks about the rise of the police state..
Below is the article explaining whats going on..
Talk to someone who has never dealt with the cops about police behaving badly, and he or she will inevitably say, “But they can’t do that! Can they?” The question of what the cops can or can’t do is natural enough for someone who never deals with cops, especially if their inexperience is due to class and/or race privilege. But a public defender would describe that question as naïve. In short, the cops can do almost anything they want, and often the most maddening tactics are actually completely legal.
There are many reasons for this, but three historical developments stand out: the war on drugs provided the template for social control based on race; 9/11 gave federal and local officials the opportunity to ensnare Muslims (and activists) in the ever-increasing surveillance and incarceration state; and a lack of concern from the public at large means these tactics can be applied, often controversy-free, to anyone who resists them.
What follows are 10 of the innumerable tactics the police can use against a population often incapable of constraining their behavior 1. Infiltration, informants and monitoring. The NYPD’s Demographics Unit has engaged in a massive surveillance program directed at Muslims throughout the entire Northeast region, ignoring any jurisdictional limitations and acting as a secret police and intelligence gathering agency – a regional FBI of sorts. The AP’s award-winning reports  on the Demographics Unit helped bring some information about the program to light, including the revelation that its efforts have resulted in exactly zero terrorism leads. 
Although a lawsuit from 1971, the Handschu case,  “resulted in federal guidelines that prohibit the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism,” legal experts worry that privacy rights have been so diminished that Muslims who are spied on may not be able to seek recourse. The AP quoted  Donna Lieberman in November 2011, who said, “It’s really not clear that people can do anything if they’ve been subjected to unlawful surveillance anymore.”
Muslims are not the only group that has been targeted. The AP reported  that the NYPD has also infiltrated liberal groups and protest organizers. Other cases of entrapment of activists, such as the NATO 5  and the Cleveland 5, are also troubling. 
2. Warrantless home surveillance. Just in case you still think there must be some limit on how the authorities can surveil you, there’s this — a federal agency, not the police, but the larger point stands. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it is legal for a law enforcement agent  to enter your house and videotape you without your consent. The case, United States v. Wahchumwah, revolved around a U.S. Fish and Wildlife undercover agent who recorded Wahchumwah without a warrant. The Ninth Circuit found the search to be “voluntary,” which led the EFF to write on its Web site: “The sad truth is that as technology continues to advance, surveillance becomes ‘voluntary’ only by virtue of the fact we live in a modern society where technology is becoming cheaper, easier and more invasive.”
“CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbach  ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission — and without a warrant — to install multiple ‘covert digital surveillance cameras’ in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.”
During the Bush years, Congress had to grant retroactive immunity to giant telecoms that engaged in warrantless wiretapping. It seems, the judicial branch wants to save Congress the trouble.
3. Preemptive visits and harassment. One of the favorite tactics of police departments is targeting activists a day before a large event. We saw this on May Day in New York City, as cops descended on several activists’ apartments before the day of action,  and in Chicago before the massive No NATO protests.  The Cleveland 5 were also arrested before May Day, and back in 2008 the RNC8 were also preemptively arrested. 
4. Creating call logs from stolen phones. If you lose your phone in NYC and report it to the police, they’ll help you find it. So far, so good. Where the agreement turns pear-shaped, however, is what they do with your call logs. The NYPD subpoenas your call log from the day it was stolen onward, under the logic that the records could help find your phone.
But — and here’s the kicker — they get info for the calls you made on the day it was swiped, and possibly even info from your new cell phone if you keep your number. The information is added to a database called the Enterprise Case Management System, and the numbers are hyperlinked for cross-referencing. The call logs, all obtained without a court order and often without the victim’s permission or knowledge, could “conceivably be used for any investigative purpose,” according to the New York Times. 
5. Consent searches. Sometimes a cop gives you a command, but phrases it as a question, like, “Would you open your bag so I can look inside?” If you’re anything like the vast majority of people in the United States, you have no idea that you’re under no lawful obligation to answer in the affirmative. You can, legally speaking, ask if you are being detained, and if the answer is no, you are free to walk away. Or at the very least, not open your bag.
Cops are aware that they can intimidate someone they decide to search, and once they obtain “consent” – e.g. “Yes, man with a gun who is towering over me, you can look in my bag” – any evidence of criminality they find can be used in court. This method of searching people was developed, like several other tactics on this list, during the early 1980s when the Reagan administration ramped up the so-called war on drugs.
Many critics argue that the very idea of a “consensual” interaction between police and the public is impossible, if the police initiate contact. As Justin Peters writes , “[Police] know the average person doesn’t feel they’re in a position to decline a conversation with a cop.” A common tactic  is for officers to say they’ll let someone off with a warning, then proceed to ask a bunch of questions, even though the person is technically free to go.
6. Stop and frisk. You’ve probably heard about stop and frisk by now, but for years this odious tactic – and close cousin to consent searches – went woefully underreported in establishment media. The NYCLU released staggering statistics for the year 2011 detailing the massive size of the program in New York City. One particularly memorable figure was that the NYPD stopped more young men of color than there are men of color in NYC.  (More information at stopmassincarceration.org .) 7. Pretext stops (Operation Pipeline). The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that cops are free to use minor traffic violations as a pretext to pull over people they suspect of committing drug crimes. Once pulled over, the police obtain “consent” – “Would you get out of the car and empty your pockets?” – and can go on fishing expeditions.
In the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ohio v. Robinette, “The Court made clear to all lower courts that, from now on, the Fourth Amendment should place no meaningful constraints on the police in the War on Drugs,” writes Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow. The Court determined  that cops don’t have to tell motorists they’re free to leave before getting “permission” to search their car.
In the mid-1980s, the DEA rolled out Operation Pipeline, a federal program that trained city cops in the shady art of leveraging pretext stops into consent searches. The discretionary nature of many of these searches resulted in massive amounts of racial profiling, so much so that some officials say  “the reason racial profiling is a national problem is that it was initiated, and in many ways encouraged, by the federal government’s war on drugs.”
8. Police dogs. Don’t consent to cops searching your bag? If you’re in a car or an airport, police can bring in the dogs to smell your stuff, and if the dog responds, they have probable cause to search you without your consent. “The Supreme Court has ruled that walking a drug-sniffing dog around someone’s vehicle (or someone’s luggage) does not constitute a ‘search,’ and therefore does not trigger Fourth Amendment scrutiny,” Michelle Alexander writes.
But if a dog barks or sits, shouldn’t we be comfortable with that triggering probable cause? Radley Balko has reported on the phenomenon of drug dogs giving false positives after reading cues from their handlers :
The problem isn’t that the dogs aren’t capable of picking up the scent; it’s that dogs have been bred to please and interact with humans. A dog can easily be manipulated to alert whenever needed. But even with conscientious cops, a dog without the proper training may pick up on its handler’s body language and alert whenever it detects its handler is suspicious.
This is called the “Clever Hans effect,”  named after the horse who could do arithmetic by tapping his hoof. In reality, the horse could recognize the shift in his owner’s body language when he had arrived at the right number.
9. Surveillance drones. The drones are coming, and the few illusions of privacy we cling to will soon disappear. The domestic market for drones in the next decade is estimated in the billions,  and police departments are chomping at the bit to implement this new technology. Drones already patrol the US-Mexico border,  and cities such as Seattle are moving toward using surveillance drones . In August, a North Dakota court ruled  that the first-ever drone-assisted arrest was perfectly legal.
In our ever more authoritarian society,  expect politicians and the lobbyists who fund their campaigns to justify increased incursions into privacy in the name of security. The short-term incentives to value privacy have been all but forgotten, as “if you’re not doing anything wrong you’ve got nothing to fear” has gone from self-evidently absurd cliché to national motto.
10. Enlist the private sector. The comedian Chris Laker says of privatization: “You can’t privatize everything. Learned that from RoboCop.” But it seems police departments haven’t learned that lesson. In Arizona, police enlisted the help of the Corrections Corporation of America, a private, for-profit prison corporation, in a drug sweep of a public school. PRWatch reports: 
“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization that advocates for criminal justice reform.
The privatization of nearly all aspects of public life, from education to law enforcement, is a trend we should all find disturbing, not least of all when a company that profits from locking humans in cages is directly involved in the arrest process.
The larger point here is obvious. In the last decade, the Bill of Rights has been shredded at the federal level and the local level. There are few constraints on police, FBI, NSA, and private intelligence companies when it comes to surveillance of the public. That many of these programs and tactics are discretionary exacerbates and magnifies conscious and subconscious racist and classist attitudes among those who carry them out.
Today’s NY Times has a good article on Stop-and Frisk that everyone should read… Here’s a brief excerpt..
The questions are probing, authoritative, but less accusatory. “What are you doing here?” “Do you live here?” “Can I see some identification, please?” During the pat-down, they ask, “Do you have anything on you?” They nudge further: “You don’t mind if I search you, do you?” They explain that someone of a matching description robbed a store a few days ago, or that the stop is a random one, part of a program in a high-crime area. Then they apologize for the stop and say the person is free to go.
In interviews with 100 people who said they had been stopped by the New York police in neighborhoods where the practice is most common, many said the experience left them feeling intruded upon and humiliated. And even when officers extended niceties, like “Have a nice night,” or called them “sir” and “ma’am,” people said they questioned whether the officer was being genuine.
As your reading this keep in mind a few things about the history of police and controlling populations. During the 1950s in LA Police Chief William H Parker had a policy of suppression. Under him, LAPD kept Black and Brown folks in sectioned off communities. Many African-Americans lived in what we now know as Watts.. Back in the days it was called the Duck Pond by police who would literally go hunting and make sure Black folks didn’t leave and enter other parts of the city..During that time LA had strict housing covenants that restricted Black and Brown folks from living in certain communities.
Aggressive harassment was routine and was designed to ‘keep folks in their place’…Parker enhanced this harassment by recruiting officers from the deep south who had hostilities toward Blacks to be on the police force. These officers made it a point to humiliate adults in front of their kids or on husbands in front of their wives…
Chief Parker who coined the term ‘Thin Blue line’ employed an even more sinister tactic..He made it a policy for officers to make sure they engaged as many young Black teens and pre-teens as possible. His philosophy was to establish a presence and dominance while they were still young and let them know who was boss.
There was study done in the 60s that showed that 90% of the juveniles arrested by LAPD were not charged. This was essentially Stop-N-Frisk decades before it showed up as police practice in NYC.
Parker’s harsh policies are what led to the explosion we now know as the Watts Riots.
Many were under the illusion that LAPD improved after those riots, but by the time the 1992 Rodney King uprisings took place, LAPD had replaced what they did under Parker with a new policy called Operation Hammer where they started keeping a gang data base. Chief Darryl Gates who replaced Parker used this resulting in 47% of Black males between the ages of 21-25 in Los Angles being deemed gang members thanks to the database.
Seems like Mayor Bloomberg & Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are heavily borrowing from the sordid legacies of LAPD Chiefs Chief William H Parker & Darryl Gates
With respect to NYC and the over 680 thousand people who have been stopped and frisk, things are headed off a cliff. It was just two weeks ago over 30 thousand people showed up and did a silent march down 5th avenue. One of the goals was to get a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg who has strongly supported Stop and Frisk. In spite of the dignified and solemn tone of the march, Bloomberg promptly refused to meet with organizers….Sounds like Chief Parker all over again both in terms of tactics being used and the dismissive response to complaints and concerns
I know one thing with all the police harassment going on in NY, visiting it does not seem too appealing anymore. Images of White shirted officers beating protestors or horrific stories of men cops randomly stopping you is definitely not the lick. Maybe the goal for Bloomberg and police commissioner Raymond Kelly is to get Black and Brown folks who currently make up close to 90% of the stops, to ultimately leave the city.
Again we encourage everyone to peep today’s NY TImes article on Stop and Frisk