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TRANSCRIPT: “Ending Stop-and-Frisk…in the City of Pittsburgh” (Starting Point, Jan 16 2015)

In Speeches on January 19, 2015 at 6:18 pm
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“Considering the fact that the shooting of Leon Ford Jr. was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics and the assault on Jordan Miles was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics, coupled with the fact that the City of Pittsburgh has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past couple of years due to lawsuits involving the police – is Stop-and-Frisk really something that we should continue in our beloved city, especially when empirical evidence shows that roughly 9 out of 10 Stop-and-Frisk incidents end without an arrest or a capture of illegal guns?”

PITTSBURGH: (JANUARY 19, 2015 – MLK DAY) Transcript of Lenny McAllister’s “Starting Point” concerning the end of Stop-And Frisk” tactics in the City of Pittsburgh.

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We begin with a Starting Point that looks back at a special get to the point episode, one where we welcomed new Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay to the Get To the Point Panel along with NOBLE’s Professor Gregory Rogers and Pitts’s Dr. Waverly Duck.

 

With all of the national headlines and local controversies aside, I found Chief McLay to be educated, articulate, skilled, and refreshing as he brings his leadership style to the City of Pittsburgh’s Police Bureau. I believe that, through tough conversations and courageous action, communities throughout the city and the police can work through mistrust and misunderstandings in order to keep Pittsburghers safe on both sides of the badge. With that in mind, however, two major developments over the past several weeks – including those that have come about after appearing on this show on January 9th – have shown us how far we must go as a city to heal wounds, protect citizens, and honor the constitutional rights of all of us across different neighborhoods and demographics.

 

The first development comes from a revamped dispute over the common sense tweet sent out by Chief McLay on new year’s eve – the tweet that got him national acclaim and heated rebuke from Pittsburgh’s chapter of the fraternal order of police. After a written apology by McLay on January 2nd and the chief’s admission on this show that the F.O.P. And he were on the same page by January 9th, the chief subsequently shut down his twitter account after a reported meeting with the head of the F.O.P. -Howard McQuillen – on January 14th and issued a memo that same day advising officers not to share information outside the ranks including with media under threat of discipline up to and including termination. The shutting down of transparency and open accountability after McLay’s newsworthy tweet also includes the inconvenient fact that his twitter account was actually shut down on January 13th, not after the meeting on the 14th – which leads to the second development.

 

After viewers saw the #EndWhiteSilence police chief on the Get To The Point panel last week (January 9) publicly defend the use of stop-and-frisk tactics in the City of Pittsburgh – a police procedure that has led to protests from New York City to Oakland – some in social media and grassroots communities began to question how a man committed to ending racism at his workplace was also justifying the use of the racially-controversial tactic of Stop-and-Frisk as a necessary tool for police officers. Even Chief McLay himself said in December that only 3 to 5 percent of the black community makes up the trouble-makers we all seek to bring to justice. Yet, in Pittsburgh, African-Americans make up over 62 percent of the warrantless searches – that is, Stop-and-Frisk searches – despite being only 26 percent of Pittsburgh’s population. Considering the fact that the shooting of Leon Ford Jr. was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics and the assault on Jordan Miles was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics, coupled with the fact that the City of Pittsburgh has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past couple of years due to lawsuits involving the police – is Stop-and-Frisk really something that we should continue in our beloved city, especially when empirical evidence shows that roughly 9 out of 10 Stop-and-Frisk incidents end without an arrest or a capture of illegal guns?

 

Now, I don’t believe that Chief McLay is a racist and I don’t believe that the major of police officers are racists – I said that last Friday, and I emphatically say that again tonight. However, it is impractical and almost impossible to commit to ending racism, sexism, or any form of systematic hatred that may be found within police ranks – or anywhere in the workplaces of America – if we also simultaneously justify any tool, policy, or behavior that enforces the hatred we seek to overcome. We need both sides of the badge to be safe everyday, but we also must adhere to the tenets of our nation, including the Fourth Amendment regarding illegal searches because – after all – thousands of Americans in blue have died serving us as police officers, just as millions of Americans have died in uniform defending the sovereignty of the United States and the Constitution we hold dear.

 

After Chief McLay’s recent welcome to Pittsburgh, national attention due to his common sense tweet – which I still defend – and his appearance last week on the Get to the Point Panel, it’s clear that we need consistent and forthright transparency from our police forces, both here in Pittsburgh and around the nation. Without it, the crisis of confidence may remain validly intact. Further, it’s self-evident that we must continue the dialogue about police practices if we are going to bridge the divide between communities of color and police officers, especially here in home.

 

The thousands of protesters across our region, our nation, and the globe have made it clear: #blacklivesmatter – and the continued use of Stop-and-Frisk is a non-starter for dialogue and partnerships with urban communities. If Chief McLay is to be successful healing the divide between communities of color and the police, Stop-and-Frisk must immediately become a flaw from our past here in Pittsburgh, not a racially-flawed and controversial part of our future. Warrantless searches – Stop-and-Frisk – must officially cease in the City of Pittsburgh where it’s applied 62 percent of the time against 26 percent of the city where the police force is going after only 1 percent of the population that’s actually committing crime.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s fitting that as we sit on the eve of MLK Day weekend, we have the power to fulfill his words and legacy by addressing and ending a reality that marks the gloom of inconsistency, mistrust, and divisiveness. It’s time for a return to the sunlight of our constitutional protections as American citizens, our civil rights legacy as proud neighbors, and better days ahead as #OneBigTeam. That starts with ending Stop-and-Frisk here in the City of Pittsburgh.”

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