Before marching in the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke Sunday morning in a Brooklyn church about how the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy helps save lives.
Speaking before the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Brownsville, the mayor said the city's stop-and-frisk policy takes guns off the streets and discourages people from carrying weapons.
Critics have said that stop-and-frisks unfairly target young men of color, but the mayor said the city is not going to cease what he called a necessary, valuable crime-fighting tactic.
"I understand why some people are calling for the stops to be eliminated entirely, but there's no denying that the stops take guns of the streets and save lives. And to borrow a phrase from President Clinton, I believe the practice need to be 'mended, not ended' to ensure that stops are conducted appropriately with as much courtesy as possible," said Bloomberg.
The crowd audibly gasped when the mayor said there were 10 murders across the city in the first week in June and that all 10 victims were young black or Hispanic men.
Bloomberg also said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has been working hard to diversify the NYPD and improve relations between police and community members.
The mayor said the NYPD has been told any racial profiling will not be tolerated, but that certain neighborhoods may be targeted due to crime rates.
"The reasons why police officers make stops in Brownsville and East New York is not because of race. It is because of crime," said the mayor. "Brownsville and East New York remain two of the highest crime areas in our city."
Meanwhile, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous marched with Local 1199 union head George Gresham and union members in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on the Upper East Side to protest stop-and-frisks.
"Ninety percent of the people are so innocent that they don't get a ticket, and so this constant harassing of our children has to stop," said Jealous.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also marched in the parade, touted the measure he introduced last week to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
"We have a law that we proposed in Albany, that I'm going to work hard over the next few weeks to try to get passed, that I believe will actually make a difference in terms of stop-and-frisk and ending some of the injustices in stop-and-frisk policies," Cuomo said.
The governor's stop-and-frisk proposal must first pass the state Legislature before it becomes law.
City Hall is facing a class action lawsuit over stop-and-frisk, and just last week a number of city and state officials protested the policy in Washington, D.C., calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the practice.
Bloomberg left the church to also attend the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Asked about the timing of the Brownsville event, a spokesperson for the mayor said the mayor was invited here and he accepted the invitation.
Mayor's Speech On Stop-And-FriskView Mayor Bloomberg's complete 21-minute speech.
TWC News: Stop-And-Frisk Debate Stretches From Church To A Parade
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