Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued to defend the controversial stop-and-frisk policy Thursday, even though two convictions made through the policy have been recently overturned in state court. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Akeam White has been stopped and frisked by police in Harlem, often.
"Sometimes you'll just be walking around, a group of people, and they decide that's enough to stop you. And most of the time they don't find nothing, but it's a bother, you know,” White said.
It is that city police policy that has been increasingly under fire. Twice in two weeks, two gun convictions were overturned in state court because the defendants were unreasonably stopped and frisked.
One of those cases occurred in Harlem. A 14-year-old boy was stopped and a loaded gun was found in his bookbag.
Because the 14-year-old boy was in a West Harlem neighborhood considered to be a high crime area, police argued they had reasonable suspicion to stop him.
The court disagreed, essentially saying stop-and-frisk should not be about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the practice, saying police patrol where crime occurs.
On Thursday, the mayor laid into the court for overturning these convictions, just hours after visiting an officer shot at a public housing project on the Lower East Side.
"We're supposed to prevent crime, get guns off the streets. I follow the book exactly and then the courts say what you did was not legal,” Bloomberg said. “It's not an academic thing. This is your life."
The attorney for these cases, Steven Banks of the Legal Aid Society, had a different interpretation.
"The recent court cases are simply the judiciary saying that the New York City Police Department has to follow the standards that the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals has laid down. There is no substitute for good policing,” said Banks.
Harlem residents called it something else.
"They stop people just to see if they have something on them and I really think it's harassment,” one resident said.
"Any law or rule that disproportionately affects the poor or minorities, I have a problem with it,” another said.
"They stop people who look like me,” said White, who said he is left looking over his shoulder.