- 10/01/2014 by Jameson Parker (Addicting Info)
The New York Police Department reportedly told a group of black teenagers that they were not welcome to walk through a predominately white neighborhood unless they could prove that they were being productive members of society.
According to one witness, a group of five or six 16 year olds was ordered to leave the area of Park Slope immediately because the officer assumed they were up to no good. His evidence? They were walking down the sidewalk and not apparently heading to the basketball court. No crime had been witnessed, no report called in. Just kids walking in the “wrong place.”
As DNAinfo reports, a resident named Sara Bennett watched the incident unfold with growing confusion and then anger. According to her testimony at a community meeting, the officer trailed the kids in his squad car before getting on his megaphone and shouting at them to “get out of the neighborhood.”
“I was really really upset and disturbed, not by the kids, but by the way the police were yelling at them to get out of the neighborhood,” Bennett told police at the meeting.
During the meeting, Commanding Officer Captain Frank DiGiacomo defended his officer’s actions, despite admitting he had no knowledge of the incident and didn’t know a single detail about it.
He cited the fact that areas around the city had been experiencing increased crime rates and his officer was probably trying to be preventative. Like with the controversial “stop-and-frisk” laws, DiGiacomo apparently believes that black teens are a demographic almost entirely of would-be criminals and his officers are therefore justified in harassing them with no cause. For him, being “preventative” means hassling black kids, even if there is no evidence that they’ve done anything wrong.
Digging the hole just a little deeper, DiGiacomo went on to explain the rational of hustling these kids out of the neighborhood.
“Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes,” DiGiacuomo said, according to DNAinfo. “If [teens] are not playing basketball, you’re not playing soccer, you’re not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them.”
And how did DiGiacomo know that these kids were from “outside” the area? Because Park Slope is predominately white, of course! According to demographics website City-Data.com, Park Slope is nearly two-thirds white, and a little over 10 percent African American. The officer, not bothering to talk to these kids, assumed that they were outsiders because they didn’t “look” like residents of Park Slope and then further assumed that they were up to no good.
It’s impossible to imagine that cops would behave the same way with a group of white kids. If a police department had a policy that said white kids weren’t allowed to walk down certain streets unless they could prove they weren’t about to rob someone, Fox News would be falling over itself to scream “reverse racism.” The fact that a police captain is so open about this blatantly discriminatory policy should demonstrate just how pervasive the double standards run throughout the NYPD.
The NYPD has come under serious scrutiny in the past few years over many of its policies which reek of racial profiling. The department has continued to promise to enact changes that will address these concerns, but it seems that they just can’t help themselves.
For now, black kids have to assume that even walking down the street will be an invitation for police harassment. That’s a shame. Growing up is hard enough without having to navigate the treacherous waters of racial discrimination at the hands of the law.