How “Stop-and-Frisk” Takes a Toll on Innocent Youth

In my own sick and twisted way I recently joked about New York City being safer if the NYPD were to expand it’s “stop and frisk” policy to include random white people in not-so-high crime areas. Of course if you’ve never lived in these communities. it’s hard to understand just how much of an aggravation it can be. To some, being a black man being harassed — yes, “stop and frisk” is in fact police harassment –by the police, just serves as the price paid for being poor and forced to live in impoverished communities of color. I mean, who needs dignity when you’re poor and black, right? The sad truth is that such police policy does more harm than good to our communities; and, they serve as fuel to the burning fire that is malcontent to an already dissected urban youth; and sadly, this isn’t a good thing. To understand, checkout the following from the New York Times:

Last year, police officers in New York City stopped and frisked people 685,724 times. Eighty-seven percent of those searches involved blacks or Latinos, many of them young men, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The practice of stop-and-frisk has become increasingly controversial, but what is often absent from the debate are the voices of young people affected by such aggressive policing on a daily basis. To better understand the human impact of this practice, we made this film about Tyquan Brehon, a young man who lives in one of the most heavily policed neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

By his count, before his 18th birthday, he had been unjustifiably stopped by the police more than 60 times. On several occasions, merely because he asked why he had been stopped, he was handcuffed, placed in a cell and detained for hours before being released without charges. These experiences were scarring; Mr. Brehon did whatever he could to avoid the police, often feeling as if he were a prisoner in his home.

Tyquon Brehon

His fear of the police also set back his education. At one high school he attended, he recoiled at the heavy presence of armed officers and school security agents. “I would do stuff that would get me suspended so I could be, like, completely away from the cops,” he recalled. He would arrive late, cut classes and refuse to wear the school uniform. Eventually, he was expelled.

Mr. Brehon’s life turned around when he transferred to Bushwick Community High School and joined Make the Road New York, a community organizing group that is part of Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of organizations. Because of his experiences, he now hopes to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice and to become a lawyer, in part so he can help others who are subjected to racial profiling.

Watch the following video Of Tyquons’s story: The scars of Stop-and-frisk