I Faced Discrimination From New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Program

I Lived it:

As a music teacher living in Ohio, I come to New York City for the types of art and entertainment that aren’t available in my hometown. I like to experience cultural phenomena like the “Harlem Shake” first hand. And so, this summer, I planned a trip to the Big Apple, hoping to receive that one-of-a-kind stop-and-frisk treatment.
I spent my five days in New York frequenting neighborhoods on my “Stop-and-Frisk Map” like East New York, Brownsville, and Bed Stuy, where the practice is known to happen most frequently. I hung out on busy street corners and made eye contact with police officers hoping to attract their attention. Yet at the end of those five days, I had gone completely un-frisked.
I hate to say it, but I think this may have had to do with my appearance. I have very little of the “local flair.” Police wouldn’t even look at me. This also may have to do with me being a woman and being white. I saw no less than seven black and Latino men stopped and frisked on my trip. Two of them even got to ride in a police car! Sounds fun right? I wish I could’ve come along! But I guess I don’t look “edgy” or “cool” enough.

Granted, I got to see stop-and-frisk in action, but I honestly feel kind of gypped. I paid all this money to come to New York, and my one authentic moment was tarnished by this completely transparent discrimination.
I hope NYC revisits their stop-and-frisk policies so that the experience can be shared by people of all races and creeds. In the meantime, I’ll be returning home to write a one-act musical on the subject for my students to perform this school year. I’m titling it “Respect My Dignity; A Stop and Frisk Story.”


By Claudine Marais