Fresh Meadows man recounts stop-and-frisk experience

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Naji Grampus claims he was stopped, questioned and frisked a few years ago and sides with a court ruling that the policy unfairly targets minorities.Photo courtesy of Naji Grampus
Naji Grampus claims he was stopped, questioned and frisked a few years ago and sides with a court ruling that the policy unfairly targets minorities.

Fresh Meadows resident Naji Grampus claims he was stopped by cops one night while walking home from playing basketball in a playground near P.S. 26 in the fall of 2010.

It was chilly, so Grampus, then 21, was wearing a hoodie and his gloves were bundled in the pouch of the sweater. Grampus, who is black, was walking with two white friends, but the officers directed their questions only to him, he said.

“Where are you going?” Grampus recalled one of three officers asking. “What’s in your pocket?”

Grampus and his friends said they were headed home, but the officers got out their vehicle and allegedly proceeded to frisk him alone.

“He frisked me, not them,” Grampus said. “I believe I was racially profiled, because I had a bulge in my pocket. But a bulge doesn’t look like a gun.”

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed with Grampus and minority groups’ view when she ruled last week that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is being used unconstitutionally by overly targeting blacks and Hispanics.

In 2012 police stopped nearly 533,000 people, but approximately 473,644 or 89 percent, were innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Of those stopped 284,229 were black (55 percent), 165,140 were Latino (32 percent) and 50,366 were white (10 percent).

“It feels like they are playing the law of averages,” Grampus said. “If I stop 100 [minorities] maybe one will have something.”

Grampus was a junior in Baruch College then and is now a community liaison for Councilmember Mark Weprin, who has voiced concern over stop-and-frisk.

Grampus thinks the policy should be reformed, not discontinued, as does Scheindlin.

As part of her decision, Scheindlin appointed a monitor over the NYPD and body cameras for police officers in some precincts in her decision.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was displeased with the ruling and the city filed to appeal the decision. Bloomberg instead referred to stats that show last year the city had the fewest shootings and murders since records began being kept in 1962.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly then touted stop-and-frisk as a reason that selling illegal weapons in the city was more difficult after the pair announced “the largest seizure of illegal guns in city history” on Monday, August 19.

Cops recovered 254 firearms and indicted 19 people. One of the men arrested was heard saying said he couldn’t bring the weapons to Brooklyn because of stop-and-frisk, according to police.

This was rebuffed by various supporters of stop-and-frisk reformers.

“We applaud the city’s record gun bust, but we are nonetheless outraged that the mayor is using it as a scare tactic to justify the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk police tactic,” said

Comptroller John Liu, a mayoral candidate. “Stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers never has been, never is, and never will be the answer.”

 

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