A judge in New York City recently ruled the Stop and Frisk program unconstitutional, saying it amounted to de facto racial discrimination, and John Oliver of the Daily Show took the time to explain what this means to white people. Stop and Frisk is a program conducted by the New York City Police Department, in which they may stop anyone they see and frisk them for weapons and contraband, if they have a “reasonable suspicion,” that a person is guilty of a crime. The NYPD has been accused of using Stop and Frisk to fish for drug possession among Black and Latino residents.
Shira Scheindlin, a U.S. District Court judge, wrote that, “While a person’s race may be important if it fits the description of a particular crime suspect, it is impermissible to subject all members of a racially defined group to heightened police enforcement because some members of that group are criminals.” The numbers back up Scheindlin’s assumption that Stop and Frisk has a racial bent: 83% of stops between 2004 and 2012 were done on black and Hispanic New Yorkers.
John Oliver describes Stop and Frisk in terms that more white New Yorkers can relate to: getting patted down by TSA at the airport.
“Imagine your whole neighborhood is Terminal B at La Guardia [Airport],” Oliver explains.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg objected to Judge Scheindlin’s ruling.
“Throughout the case, we didn’t believe we were getting a fair trial, and this decision confirms that suspicion,” said Mayor Bloomberg at a press conference.
“Hold on,” Oliver interjects, “let me get this straight: You think that this program is being unfairly stopped and scrutinized, even though it has done nothing wrong. I think I know millions of Blacks and Latinos in this city that know exactly how you feel.”
As a follow up segment, Oliver speaks to Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, who explains that Stop and Frisk doesn’t go far enough: it needs to target more white businessman, because an inconvenience for a few of them is worth finding the few that are betting against their own investments in the midst of crashing the economy. That’s a stop and frisk program we could all get behind.