Thousands marched down 5th Avenue on Father's Day, yet the only sound that could be heard were the birds chirping above.
A mass of people, ranging from small children to those in wheelchairs, made their way from 110th Street to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's doorstep on 79th Street in a silent protest against the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.
“Today the men of color in this community stepped up as fathers, as men, and as mentors,” said D’Metriss Holmes, a teacher from East Harlem. “Perhaps we will now be able to make change."
Among those leading the pack were Reverend Al Sharpton and the parents of Ramarley Graham, the 18-year-old unarmed teen shot and killed by police during a drug chase in February. The officer who shot Graham has been charged with manslaughter; he pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
The father of Trayvon Martin was also rumored to be in the crowd, but Metro could not confirm his attendance.
“Stop-and-frisk policing violates our civil rights as citizens,” Sharpton said to the surging crowd as they walked. “It is illegal, immoral, and must be ended.”
Nelini Stamp, a member of the march’s organizing team, was pleased that the march had been carried off peacefully.
“It was beautiful,” said Stamp. “Instead of yelling and chanting people had a chance to meet each other and get to know each other while they walked.”
Bloomberg took the opportunity today to reiterate his defense of stop and frisk, pointing out the steady reduction in violent crime on city streets over the past decade.
But he also said that the NYPD has to "mend" the practice, and that the expects the number of stops will decline in the months ahead.
"Innocent people who are stopped can be treated disrespectfully.
That is not acceptable," said Bloomberg today. "If you’ve done nothing wrong, you deserve
nothing but respect and courtesy from the police. Police Commissioner
Kelly and I both believe we can do a better job in this area."
The NYPD reported no fights or violence, and there were no arrests made at the protest, which lasted about two hours.
New law proposed
According to Chris Bilal, a member of Streetwise and Safe, the next step for ending stop-and-frisk will be the Community Safety Act, which aims for a stronger ban on racial profiling and creating an inspector general for the NYPD.
“It’s ground-breaking legislation,” said Bilal, who has personally been stopped-and-frisked three times. “I saw so many people that are all very serious about ending stop-and-frisk today…so it’s definitely just the beginning.”
Another fatal cop shooting
An unarmed woman was shot and killed by police last week.
- Shantel Davis, 23, died Thursday after being shot by a police officer. According to the NYPD, the incident started at around 5:35 p.m. when she was observed speeding down Church Avenue in Brooklyn in a stolen 1998 Toyota Camry.
- Davis ran a series of red lights before colliding with a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan at the corner of E. 38th Street, police say.
- Two officers then approached the Camry on foot, and the officer on the driver’s side began struggling with Davis for control of the steering wheel and gear shift.
- During the struggle, Davis allegedly knocked the officer on the passenger side back into the street by driving in reverse.
- At the same time, a shot from the officer’s gun was discharged, striking Davis in the chest, police say. She was transferred to Kings County Hospital and pronounced dead at 5:55 p.m. A vigil for Davis was held on Saturday.
Jesse Greenspan contributed reporting. Photos by Jeremy Sparig for Metro.