Blowing the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk Campaign Launches


Most of the action Thursday September 13, in the new campaign to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk was in the areas most heavily targeted by NYPD.  Organizers were in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, Jamaica Queens, and Staten Island.  By the end of the day, 20,000 whistles had been distributed.

People wanted a place to gather and blow the whistle downtown, so we obliged.  First, at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters, where the decision was made to begin the policy of stop-and-frisk, and from where it’s constantly defended.  A few of us showed up with whistles, buttons, and signs saying “We are BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK.  No more STOPS and ILLEGAL SEARCHES in SILENCE.  Join us.”

There is a permanent “pen” of metal barricades in front of 1 Police Plaza.  After we told police we weren’t going into the pen, and we weren’t even having a protest there, they brought out more officers and extended the pen.  But our focus wasn’t on them.  We were intent on getting whistles to people who responded to the call to “blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk.”

We did not know that many civilian employees of the NYPD would agree with us that stop-and-frisk should be ended.  One of them signed up with us; others said they would lose their job if they spoke out.  Journalists from Mexico and China interviewed us.  We got so into getting whistles out to people walking by — including lots of mothers who wanted them for their kids who are targeted by NYPD — that we were almost late to Union Square, where people were waiting for us.

About 75 people gathered up to participate in a mic check to blow the whistle.  I was glad to see supporters of World Can’t Wait answer the call to come out.  Reginald, one of the organizers, told the crowd that he’s 60 years old, has masters’ degrees and has traveled the world.  He got stopped in Brooklyn near his home.  The cops said, “let us see your drugs.  You take drugs, don’t you?”  Reginald told them that he takes the drugs his doctor prescribes.  They let him go, but he doesn’t want to see others have to go through that.  Several Wall Street Occupiers talked about their experiences, and the role of the police across the city, including the murders of Ramarley Graham and Reynaldo Cuevas by NYPD.

We blew the whistle a lot! Especially at 6:00 pm, you could hear the whistles as you came up the subway steps. People came to check out the scene, and some of us did a group photo.

The deal with “blow the whistle”  is to make some noise, wherever you are, when you see someone being stopped and frisked or rights being abused by the NYPD.  We are out to change the situation where people are stopped and feel alone or humiliated by the police.  When you see something, blow your whistle.  Others will hear you.  Ask them to get out their phones or cameras.

Remember, you have the right to observe and document police conduct.  They don’t have the right to abuse anyone, and you don’t have to quiet when you see them doing so.  More information at

(Photo credit: Reginald T. Brown)
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