In the crowded contest to become mayor of New York, a candidate who’s not Anthony Wiener or Christine Quinn managed to grab headlines in The New York Times for attacking the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.
Ex-comptroller Bill Thompson — the only black mayoral candidate — said Sunday the NYPD’s policy of searching “suspicious” men reflected the same attitude George Zimmerman had when he followed Trayvon Martin.
New York’s stop-and-frisk policy stems from a 1968 Supreme Court decision that says police can stop people on the street if they have a “reasonable suspicion” they’re about to commit a crime. The majority of people who get stopped in New York are black or Hispanic, and critics say the policy amounts to racial profiling.
Thompson, whom The Times says rarely comments on race, had sharp words about stop-and-frisk at a storefront church in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn on Sunday.
“Here in New York City, we have institutionalized Mr. Zimmerman’s suspicion with a policy that all but requires our police officers to treat young black and Latino men with suspicion, to stop them and frisk them because of the colour of their skin,” he said.
In a campaign where a serial lewd texter has grabbed much of the spotlight, Thompson’s comparison of stop-and-frisk and George Zimmerman impressed several New Yorkers who heard him.
“He would get my vote based on the passion in his speech today,” 33-year-old Khalid Douglas told The Times. “It improved my opinion of him.”
News of Thompson’s speech came the same day The Times’ Bill Keller questioned whether black politicians — Obama in particular — had a responsibility to weigh in on race issues. He suggested that white politicians should be talking about race, too.
“Wouldn’t you like to hear John Boehner or Mitch McConnell or Chris Christie or Rick Perry own up as candidly as the president has to the corrosive vestiges of racism in our society?” Keller wrote. “Now that might be an occasion to turn cartwheels.”
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