Immigrant rights group Make the Road New York and allies spent Saturday afternoon on July 14th marching through Bushwick for their seventh annual Pride and Solidarity March. This year's march was in part a solidarity action to end the NYPD practice of Stop & Frisk. Bushwick has been one of the most affected neighborhoods of the unconstitutional practice by New York City police, having had almost 14,000 Stop & Frisks in 2011. (By comparison, Greenpoint had 2, 023, the lowest in the city. East New York led the city with 31,100.)
The crowd assembled on Grove Street, at Make The Road New York's (MRNY) Brooklyn office. Gradually hundreds of rainbows filled the street and sidewalk – flags, balloons, barrets, banners. A jolly middle-aged man with a sign reading "NYPD / We are watching you" moved from the sidewalk out into the street with the assembling crowd.
Eventually two NYPD cars arrived. One would escort the march in front, while about eight officers walked along the sidewalk. Chants like "Sexist / Racist / Anti-gay /NYPD, go away!" and "NYPD / Keep your hands off of me!"
A large band of horns dressed in mostly green kept spirits high as we traversed the neighborhood, walking by Public School 116, then half-a-block-later an Armed Forces Career Center, then on passing Maria Hernandez Park, around to Knickerbocker Avenue, and eventually back to Grove Street.
Pedestrians along the way waved or cheered. Many took picture and movies with their phones. Many stared with blank faces.
The city has defended the Stop & Frisk program, claiming it has taken guns off the street and therefore saved lives. A recent op-ed by NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman in the Daily News wrote that this claim is "demonstrably false" and that "the city's murder rate started dropping long before Kelly's current tenure as commissioner, and there's no evidence stop=and-frisk had anything to do with it." Even if the practice did save lives, at what price to the population's rights and dignity?
Make the Road New York has 11,000 members. The immigrant rights organization educates and provides family services.
An audio version of this story (with brass band and chanting!) is available at Occupy Our Stories.