African-Americans ‘Understopped’: New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly defended the “stop-and-frisk” policy on Wednesday night, saying that 75 percent of violent crimes committed in the city are by African-Americans.
“The percentage of people who are stopped is 53% African-American,” he said, referring to the controversial program, during an interview on “Nightline.” “So really, African-Americans are being understopped in relation to the percentage of people being described as being the perpetrators of violent crime.”
Critics of the program say that it unfairly targets African-Americans and Latinos. The tactic involves stopping and patting down any person deemed suspicious.
Kelly added: “About 70% to 75% of the people described as committing violent crimes — assault, robbery, shootings, grand larceny — are described as being African-American.”
African-American and Latino residents make up only 23 and 29 percent of New York City’s population, respectively, ABC points out.
Earlier this week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed mayoral candidates who criticized the program.
“(The candidates) never had responsibility for public safety and strategy and are putting ideology and election-year politics above public safety,” he said, reported the New York Daily News on Tuesday.
Bloomberg also targeted The New York Times for publishing an editorial about “stop-and-frisk,” while not reporting on the death of 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant, who was shot and killed in the Bronx.
“Do you think if a white 17-year-old prep school student from Manhattan had been murdered, The Times would have ignored it?” he questioned. “Me, neither.”
Bloomberg referenced the Boston Marathon bombings, 9/11 and gun violence. He says it’s crucial to give officers the tools they need to protect people’s lives.
Otherwise, says Bloomberg, “we will all be responsible.”
A coalition backing the legislation says Bloomberg is engaging in “dangerous scare tactics.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.