Stop and Frisk in Chicago

People hold signs during a silent march to end the “stop-and-frisk” program in New York, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Thousands of protesters from civil rights groups walked down New York City’s Fifth Avenue in total silence on Sunday as they marched in defiance of “stop-and-frisk” tactics employed by city police. (Seth Wenig/AP)

People hold signs during a silent march to end the “stop-and-frisk” program in New York, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Thousands of protesters from civil rights groups walked down New York City’s Fifth Avenue in total silence on Sunday as they marched in defiance of “stop-and-frisk” tactics employed by city police. (Seth Wenig/AP)

The sight of young Black men, spread-eagled with hands on the police car, is an all too familiar one in Chicago. That’s because “stop and frisk,” usually for no lawful reason, is disproportionately concentrated in the Black community. A March 2015 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report found that more than 250,000 Chicagoans were stopped, but not arrested, in the summer of 2014. They were 72% Black, but the city’s population is only 32% Black. While racist stop and frisk policies were publicly protested and curtailed in New York by a court decision, the ACLU report found that Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers were when stops there were at their height.

Driving While Black, or even Walking While Black is apparently just as prevalent now as it was prior to a 2003 ACLU lawsuit. The suit was supposed to result in curtailment of stop and frisk for harassment purposes and in new record keeping practices to serve as a check on unlawful police behavior. However, as the ACLU reports,

Today, Chicago’s reliance on stop and frisk has increased dramatically and legitimate doubts about the constitutionality of the City’s method of executing these stops have only increased.

The Chicago Teachers Union is concerned about this practice, which impacts the lives of many of our students. We are calling attention to the issue of disproportionate stop and frisks of Black youth and making the larger issue of racism in the justice system a part of our contract fight.

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About Carol Caref

Carol Caref taught high school mathematics in CPS for 26 years before coming to work at the Chicago Teachers Union as a researcher. She has been involved in anti-racist, anti-capitalist struggles since her teens.

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