Stop-and-frisk plaintiff says encounters made him feel 'criminalized'

Aftermath of police stop leaves heavy emotions

Peart doesn’t believe the practice works and instead says it attacks innocent community members.

Following his incident with police, Peart says he tried to put the pieces together, but still couldn’t think of any reason why he was stopped – nor did the police officers tell him.

“I put a lot of this stuff together afterwards,” he says, adding that he later found out the first officer never entered his apartment. “But I still have no idea why the officer went to my door.”

Throughout the procedure, Peart – who says he has never been convicted of any crime – says he did what was asked of him by the officers.

“I didn’t show any resistance or hesitation because once you show that it is more of a hassle,” he says. “Then they start to consider it as disorderly conduct. I have every reason to be upset but I know I have to do what is best in the situation. But my level of frustration was unbearable. ”

“Overall, that experience was by the far the worst,” Peart says. “I was very angry, I was sad and I felt victimized and criminalized. It all really affected my family, too.”

Spreading the word to youth members 

Peart says he is fearful that his two younger brothers will one day be stopped and frisked by police, just like he was.

“I hope that they never experience that but it’s inevitable,” he says. “I’m definitely fearful and that’s partly why I want to make a change.”

Peart has not only testified in the ongoing class action suit, he has also had several public speaking engagements discussing his beliefs about how the practice affects the community.

He is also an alumnus of Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a comprehensive youth development organization focused on providing support, education and other helpful resources to young people. He became a member of the group before he was stopped by police.

“It’s visceral, it’s horrific and it’s invasive,” Khary Lazarre-White, co-founder of the organization, says of the stop-and-frisks. “We provide both emotional support and advocacy on the issue.”

Under Bloomberg’s mayoral tenure, the number of stop-and-frisks has increased from around 97,000 stops in 2002 to over 684,000 in 2011 alone, according to NYPD – and more than 85 percent of police stops in 2011 were blacks and  Hispanics.

Meanwhile, police say these stops have prevented further killings while advocates view the tactic as a method of racial profiling.

Hopes for reform in NYPD 

Peart believes the practice is one that is very unsettling for minority communities.

“Stop and frisk has become this rite of passage for young men in the city,” he says. “As I got older, my mother prepared me mentally for this as something I will face sometime in my lifetime. No woman should have to prepare her son to be criminalized.”

Peart says he thinks it has many psychological effects on kids and teens that go overlooked by the city.  

“These aren’t just minor inconveniences, they’re hostile situations,” he says.

He hopes the current case leads to a better relationship between the community and police.

“The image has to soften of the police, and people have to be more receptive of police presence,” he says.

“In some ways the NYPD needs a makeover and we have to change their tyranny,” he adds.” We shouldn’t feel threatened by police but it has been that way for so long that it has been accepted and that has to change.”

Follow Lilly Workneh @Lilly_Works