In May, New York State Senator Eric Adams alleged that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told him in 2010 that he hoped to "instill the fear in black and Hispanic youth that every time they leave their homes they will feel that they could be stopped."

In the two years since Kelly supposedly made his comments, regardless of whether or not Adams was telling the truth, the NYPD has indeed put the fear of the stop-and-frisk tactic into young black and brown men's hearts. Though the tactic, which finds police arbitrarily seizing citizens and forcing them to empty their pockets and bags, has faced legal challenges more than once, and while its use is on the decline, it continues to be a go-to way for police to patrol predominantly minority areas. Of the nearly 700,000 stop-and-frisks performed in 2011, 84 percent were conducted on blacks and Latinos, and only 2 percent turned up contraband, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Essentially, what stop-and-frisk has become is a legal way for police officers to harass and demean young male minorities, the vast majority of whom turn out to be totally innocent. To wit, a new audio tape obtained by The Nation that depicts for the first time ever exactly what can happen when we give the NYPD leeway to degrade, belittle, rough up, and search citizens under the guise of "public safety." In the footage, a teenager named Alvin is accosted by three police officers who tell him he looks "suspicious." Alvin secretly recorded their interaction, and he captured the cops calling him a "fuckin' mutt"; threatening to smack him, break his arm, and punch him in the face; and mocking his dad for being a traffic cop. At multiple points in the tape, you can hear Alvin being jostled as the police manhandle him, constantly demanding he "shut the fuck up" for asking simple questions about why they were detaining him.

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Unfortunately, the men who treated Alvin like this haven't been fired or otherwise punished for ganging up on and intimidating a teenager, and it's likely he's not the only person they've treated like this. In The Nation's full and detailed account of the tape, a few people interviewed say this is actually pretty standard practice on the streets of New York. "This audio confirms what we've been hearing from communities of color, again and again," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said.

And yet stop-and-frisk is allowed to persist. It's just the cops doing their job: To serve, protect, and threaten to break teenagers' arms.

[The Nation]