The Gendered Violence of Stop-and-Frisk
Though racist stop-and-frisk policies have been framed as primarily police violence against men of color (black and Latino men account for 40% of the stops from last year), women and transgender people are also subject to the violence of police frisks on the street. The New York Times recently profiled several women who have experienced stop-and-frisk in order to “increase safety:”
Crystal Pope, 22, said she and two female friends were frisked by male officers last year in Harlem Heights. The officers said they were looking for a rapist. It was an early spring evening at about 6:30 p.m. The three women sat talking on a bench near Ms. Pope’s home on 143rd Street when the officers pulled up and asked for identification, she said.
“They tapped around the waistline of my jeans,” Ms. Pope said. “They tapped the back pockets of my jeans, around my buttock. It was kind of disrespectful and degrading. It was uncalled-for. It made no sense. How are you going to stop three females when you are supposedly looking for a male rapist?”
Wild Gender reports that LGBT people, specifically trans women of color, are targeted by police stop-and-frisk at very high rates:
“When (transgender people) are stopped and frisked, they usually suffer physical violence, verbal harassment, often times a groping of their genitals,” said Karina Claudio, an organizer with Make the Road New York, to NY1.
“They just like, ‘are you man or woman?’” said Nicole Teyuca, who spoke out against the policy. “And I’m like ‘what do you want me to be?’ In that moment, they just got out of the car, put me against the wall and they tell me you are under arrest.”
“Every training we go to, we hear complaints about stop-and-frisk, and we hear women talk about sexual harassment,” Ms. Ritchie said. “They say, ‘Isn’t it right that a male officer can’t frisk you?’ ”
Ms. Ritchie said she believed the confusion spoke to the type of police stops unfolding daily on the streets, especially in cases where officers might have violated constitutional boundaries.
If a woman believes there is no legal basis for the frisk, Ms. Ritchie said, then she may feel that she is being groped simply for the officer’s sexual gratification. “That’s how women have described it to me,” Ms. Ritchie added.
Check out this fact sheet from Think Progress to learn more about stop-and-frisk practices. Here is audio testimony from Nicole Teyuca about her experience of being profiled, stopped, frisked,and harassed by police, and a discussion about organizing strategies from Make the Road New York and their partners. (More info can be found at a news article at OutFM.) And here’s a news article with a slide show of the June 17th silent protest against stop-and-frisk in NYC, which drew thousands. *Updated to add this great article, “From Stonewall to Stop and Frisk,” by Chris Bilal, a youth leader at Streetwise and Safe.
For more information and resources about ongoing law enforcement violence against women of color and trans people of color, check out the Stop Law Enforcement Violence Toolkit. It includes info about about military and ICE violence, policing gender and sexuality, police violence in schools, against people in the sex industry, and in the context of colonial violence, domestic and sexual violence, so-called neighborhood “improvement,” and environmental disaster. There are also helpful organizing resources developed by grassroots groups included in the toolkit.