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One Photographer’s Long Witnessing of Stop and Frisk

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y.: Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. An NYPD officer stops cars for identification on Rockaway Ave. in Brooklyn. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y. Many community members say they have been victim to stop and frisk policies in their neighborhoods in in the south Bronx and in the high crime neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn all within the confines of the 44th and 46th precincts of the NYPD. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Joel Rodriguez, who has been victim to "stop and frisk" policies, speaking with reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Jose Carrion, who has been victim to stop and frisk policies, speaking with reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Jose Carrion (R) speaking with reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Police arrest Mr. Carrion outside his building for having speakers that were playing loud music. Many community members say they have been victim to stop and frisk policies in their neighborhood in the confines of the 44th and 46th precincts of the NYPD.
(Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Police arrest Mr. Carrion outside his building for having speakers that were playing loud music. Many community members say they have been victim to stop and frisk policies in their neighborhood in the confines of the 44th and 46th precincts of the NYPD.
(Robert Stolarik}

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Police confiscate speakers from the lobby of a private building where neighbors were having a barbecue.
(Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 Bronx, N.Y: Alberto Feliz, a victim of stop and frisk policies, tells his story to reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y. Many community members say they have been victim to stop and frisk policies in their neighborhoods in in the south Bronx and in the high crime neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn all within the confines of the 44th and 46th precincts of the NYPD. (Robert Stolarik)

August 4, 2012 Bronx, N.Y: Filipe Carrion, a victim of stop and frisk policies, tells his story to reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 2, 2012 Bronx, N.Y: Bryan Hall, a victim of stop and frisk policies, tells his story to reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

August 2, 2012 - Bronx, N.Y: Tybon Roberts tells his story to reporters. (Robert Stolarik)

June 6, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2012 - Brooklyn, N.Y: An officer places handcuffs on a young male outside 300 Dumont Avenue on a Saturday Evening. (Robert Stolarik)

June 13, 2012- Brooklyn, N.Y: Derrick Smith has been stopped and frisked by members of the NYPD in East New York, Brooklyn.
(Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 13, 2012 - Brooklyn, N.Y.: Evan Guzman has been stopped and frisked by members of the NYPD in Brooklyn. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

June 5, 2010 - Brooklyn, N.Y: Police surround a small group of people on the corner of Mother Gaston and Sutter Avenue in the early morning. Members of the NYPD patrol the neighborhood around the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn with a task force aimed at stopping crimes before they happen. This practice -- stop and frisk -- is frequently done in this neighborhood. (Robert Stolarik)

August 20, 2012 - Brooklyn, N.Y: People walk past a mural depicting the practice of stop and frisk on Livonia Avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn. (Robert Stolarik)

June 12, 2012- Brooklyn, N.Y: Ramel Ramsey, who resides at the Langston Hughes Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn, has been stopped by police in his neighborhood.
(Robert Stolarik)

June 12, 2012- Brooklyn, N.Y: Eric Togar, who resides at the Langston Hughes Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was last stopped by police in his neighborhood Monday evening. (Robert Stolarik)

Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik

Before June 2010, when Robert Stolarik visited the Brownsville Houses for an assignment for the New York Times to cover what was being touted as a new anti-crime policy implemented by the NYPD, he had never heard of Stop and Frisk.

At first, Stolarik was skeptical of what residents were saying about the controversial policy.

Mothers pushing strollers in courtyards stopped by police officers for no apparent reason. Teens walking to a friend’s house along the path from one building to another stopped and searched and summonsed. Middle aged men sitting on benches rousted and patted down. It was hard to swallow the stories, until, he said, he saw them for himself.

“I heard a bunch of stories about stop and frisk and they seemed unbelievable,” he said. “But when I started covering the story and saw it for myself, I realized that these outlandish accounts of people being stopped and searched apropos of nothing were actually happening.”

He said on that first day the police handcuffed one teenager while they went through his pockets finding nothing. He said the officers didn’t give any explanation of why they went through the teen’s pockets and then let him go.

“The cops were so bold about it,” he said. “They were doing it right in front of us.”

Stolarik, a war photographer (in Kosovo and Colombia) had spent a significant part of his professional life in New York City’s most dangerous neighborhoods after he transitioned into covering the city. The photos featured above are from time Stolarik spent cataloguing this controversial practice in the 44th and 46th precincts in the south Bronx and in the high crime neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin said the practice was unconstitutional and called for an independent monitor to oversee major changes to the policy. She appointed an independent monitor to develop reforms and oversee that the NYPD wasn’t violating the Constitution.

“The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” she wrote. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory.”

Late Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg in response to the judge’s ruling, called a press conference in which he fiercely defended the controversial practice.

“Our police officers follow the law and follow the crime,” he said from City Hall. “They fight crime where it is occurring. And they don’t worry if their work doesn’t match up to a census chart.”

Stolarik said over the years he has seen young men learn to make the practice a workaday part of their existence.

“The witnesses I’ve spoke to over the years have said it’s really hard,” he said. “You learn to be a young black man and come to terms with the fact that this is an ordinary part of your life. Even when they wanted to stand their ground and say to the police officers, ‘hey, you shouldn’t be doing this, it’s not right,’ they kept quiet because they don’t want to spend the night in jail. And they knew that if they don’t comply and they don’t empty their pockets and go against the wall, at least they’ll get to go home and not spend the night in jail. It’s something I’ve seen over and over again covering this and it’s really sad.”

One Comment on “One Photographer’s Long Witnessing of Stop and Frisk

  1. Pingback: Looking Back: A Year in Juvenile Justice | Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

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