NEW YORK (AP) – The mother of slain Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin spoke out Sunday against the stop-and-frisk police practice in New York City, saying neither police nor civilians have the right to stop anybody because of their race.
Critics say the stops target blacks and Hispanics who aren’t doing anything wrong. Last week, a judge told New York City that its policy was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional. The city plans to appeal.
“You can’t give people the authority, whether civilian or police officers, the right to just stop somebody because of the color of their skin,” Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Over the past decade, New York police have stopped, questioned and sometimes patted down about five million people; 87 percent were black or Hispanic. About 10 percent of the stops spur an arrest or summons. Police find weapons a fraction of the time.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the use of stop and frisk Sunday and said violent crimes would increase if the practice were abandoned.
“The losers in this, if this case is allowed to stand, are people who live in minority communities,” Kelley said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Fulton’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said the stop-and-frisk policy targeted people by race and noted it was still being used as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech approached.
“It actually takes us away from his poignant words of, ‘I dreamed my children would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin,’” Crump said.
Fulton has said neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman “got away with murder” in the Feb. 26, 2012, killing of her son in Sanford, largely because of Florida’s self-defense law.
An all-female six-member jury acquitted Zimmerman on a murder charge and also declined to convict him on a manslaughter charge as an alternative.
Zimmerman claimed self-defense in shooting the 17-year-old Trayvon during a fight; Trayvon’s supporters say Zimmerman profiled and followed him because he was black.
Protesters belonging to the Dream Defenders youth group occupied part of the Capitol in Tallahassee, calling for an examination of the Florida law after Zimmerman was acquitted last month.