Seems like the City of Brotherly Love has everything but love for brothas. Thursday, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit challenging “stop and frisk” searches by the Philadelphia police department.
The ACLU’s lawsuit was a result of a complaint filed on behalf of eight men, including Jewell Williams, a state lawmaker. Mr. Williams said he was handcuffed and detained during a traffic stop. The police later apologized to him, citing a misunderstanding.
But what happens if you’re not a state congressman?
According to the lawsuit, the ACLU asserts that police data shows that 253,333 people were searched last year in Philadelphia and more than 70 percent of those stopped were Black. Although a quarter of a million people were subject to the “stop and frisk” searches, only 8.4 percent of the stops led to an arrest (and even less lead to a weapon’s arrest).
Despite needing a valid reason to stop people for “stop and frisk” searches, the ACLU alleges that pedestrians are simply being targeted because of their race.
“Our belief is that people are being stopped because of their race and not because of any individual activity that should raise any suspicion by police,” said Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney.
The “stop and frisk” policy came about as a result of Mayor Michael Nutter’s attempts to decrease violent crime in Philadelphia. The mayor, an African-American man, argued that his officers are trained to respect citizen’s rights. He cites the fact that complaints against the police have not increased, even though these searches have been widely carried out.
A similar lawsuit has also been filed in New York City, where the “stop and frisk” searches have resulted in approximately 575,000 pedestrian stops, but only 6 percent ended in arrests (1.5 percent of arrests resulted in recovering a weapon). Similar to the statistics in Philadelphia, a majority of the people stopped in NYC were Black or Latino.