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New York Police Department and Muslims, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

According to Cohen (1996) when describing monster culture it is advocated ‘monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them’ (Cohen, 1996 pp. 17). The following discussion embraces this assumption in relating facts regarding New York Police Department’s approach towards classified monster minorities known as Muslim within that society.

Why is the New York Police Department targeting minorities?

Minorities in any society are likely to be targeted. They are often poor, uneducated, immigrants, low profiled in the political structure and ultimately considered powerless. Precisely, minorities from a sociological perspective are classified a social group, which is different from the majority in terms of culture, ethnicity, race, religion and social identity specifically (Wirth, 1945).

Sociologists also contend that they are prone to different treatment in their social environments. These related environments are countries to which they migrate, social settings in which interaction is inevitable and discrimination within their societies. Reasons for these different treatments are difficult to analyze since they appear as merely prejudice and discrimination just because of perceived differences in behavior and culture. There is no scientific explanation for minorities’ classification or alternative treatment patterns (Wirth, 1945). Importantly, it is argued that ‘monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them’ (Cohen, 1996 pp. 17).

The New York Police Department (NYPD) however has focused its attention towards applying surveillance, prosecution, and interrogation of minority individuals including Muslims, blacks, and Hispanics, in particular.  Since Sociologists have posited that there is no other scientific basis for this relationship dysfunction towards people classified minorities within the social structure, besides prejudice and discrimination philosophies; it would be difficult to explain why the New York Police Department is targeting minorities except to say that it emerges from prejudice and discrimination. Hence, this writer will merely state the facts of this matter.

What is fueling the “stop and frisk” laws and/or spying on Muslim citizens in New York?

According to the NYPD official website, the New York police’s mission is to enhance quality of life in the City by  partnering with  community groups executing laws accordance with constitutional right of each citizen/resident in preserving peace, reducing fear, and providing a safe environment (NYPD, 2012). From this perspective a counter attack has been launched in the form of ‘stop and frisk laws’ whereby Muslims are under scrutiny.

The premise for this action is that presence of suspicious people and minorities decreases safety levels since they are potential law breakers. Therefore, to guarantee New Yorkers’ peace and security, these legislations ought to be enforced and corresponding action taken. The logic behind this intervention seems obscure as to why minorities such as Muslim must be scrutinized bearing in mind that ‘monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them’ (Cohen, 1996 pp. 17). Are all Muslims creating fear and unset within the confines of New York City?

Further arguments for the ‘stop and frisk law’ point towards the 9/11 experience. How do all Muslims then relate to minority groups? One would question whether the 9/11 episode has clarified their social, cultural, and literary-historical presence within their societies to classify them minorities and more so minorities to be targeted with the stop and frisk laws. The application of the police’s stop-and-frisk practice in relation to Muslims makes New Yorkers believe that Muslim communities are likely to be organized criminal gangs that should be punished. In other words, the current NYPD’s minority policymaking Muslims affected minority community helps to preserve their image as either potential informants or possible terrorists (Ramzi, 2012). One may agree that although police monitoring of Muslims has some reasonable grounds, the stop-and-frisk practice mostly causes fear and paranoia among New Yorkers than serves to identify real terrorists

The minority policy itself has always been law within the New York Police Department. However, after 9/11 whereby a group of Muslim has been accused for the event, all Muslims have automatically become targets of terrorists’ attacks without validating the intricate matrix of social relations contained in these interactions (Smith and Alistair 240).

Cohen (1996) further explains that ‘monster’ is a significant category of people who become subject of limitation within the society that suffers extreme versions of marginalization incorporated through personal anxieties, a problem to be eliminated from society (Cohen, 1996, pp. 12). This could possibly explain New York Police Department’s attitude towards minorities in the form of Muslims. It could be in response to personal anxieties with no sound foundation of threat to safety of the New Yorkers in general (Daniel, 2009).

Further for arguments targeting Muslims as beneficiaries of the minority policy is that aggressive crime prevention was necessary at all levels. Therefore, implementing stop-and-frisk laws inhibiting actions of minorities such as Muslims, blacks, and Hispanics was valid. However, in my opinion the increased surveillance, prosecution, and interrogation of minority individuals have made this minority policy discriminatory rather than effective. This policy has in fact marginalized minorities into monsters that should be eliminated from the society. As such, it initiates open racism racial discrimination and social profiling ( Daniel, 2012).

Overall, it is essential to mention that the current NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices can hardly be called reasonable and effective. The reality demonstrates that these stop-and-frisk laws do not have any feasible effect in terms of crime prevention. According to the recent data, stop-and-frisk practices do not actually decrease crime in comparison with other state. In 2011, 88% of all stops did not result in a summons or arrest; contraband was found only in 2%, and weapons were recovered in only 1% of all stops (McDonald, 2012).

More importantly, prepositions launched in favor of profiling Muslims do not reflect reality. My argument is that New York City’s high crime rate is not related to terrorist attacks nor minorities, but New York population generally. It does not distinguish blacks, white Hispanics, rich, poor neither middle class. Safety/ security is the responsibility of every New Yorker irrespective of Muslim, minority, 9/11 experience, after or prior activities.

What make minorities easy targets?

Turning attention to minorities helps majority perpetuators to undermine the law because there is a group classified to commit the crimes they would and  be a cover up for them ( Daniel, 2009). For example, Since Muslims were accused of attacking the World Trade Center of the city, exactly this minority has become an easy target for the NYPD (Ramzi, 2012).

Besides, measures endorsed by the USA Patriot Act, the NYPD validate execution of “stop-and-frisk” practice introduced at the end of the 1960s. A stop-and-frisk practice allows a police officer to stop and frisk a suspicious individual. They are based on a reasonable suspicion (rather than probable cause), he or she can stop a person in a public place, ask questions to determine the person’s potential offense ratting and search the minority for weapons (Del Carmen, 2009).

There is data justifying this attitude towards minorities to argue that many crimes have been solved and perpetuators taken into custody. Overall, according to stop-and-frisk laws, New York police officers have to follow specific which include “observe”, “approach and identify”, and “ask questions” (Del Carmen, 2009). The paradox lies in whether these minorities are really perpetuators of the crimes they are accused of committing. The likelihood is that they even may be convicted without reasonably defense due to poverty and profiling (Daniel, 20090).

Further evidence points to a 17-year-old African-American male victim of a police-shooting victim of 2009 apprehended under the stop-and-frisk law. This unarmed teenager was shot by one of the city’s police officer who mistakenly thought that this minority was carrying a gun. When the teenager died, New York’s “anti-cop activists have turned the shooting of Ramarley Graham into a symbol of the lethal consequences” of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice (McDonald, 2012). However, regardless of the fact that this legally valid practice has thousands of oppositionists, today, the police officers go on locating in minority neighbourhoods searching for black, Hispanic, or Muslim perpetuators.

New York’s anti-minority policy was initiated at the top of authority, in particular, by the city’s former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani. Since the 1990s, when Giuliani occupied the position of the city’s Mayor, the Muslim people living in New York have become the victims of the police’s searches, prosecutions, and surveillance. According to the research data, “among the flagship programs of the Giuliani crime-fighting era was stop-and-frisk, a profiling model applied almost exclusively to communities of color” (Ramzi, 2012). Naturally, since the terroristic attacks of 2001, the NYPD has used its stop-and-frisk practice mostly in relation to Muslims believed to be the main perpetrators of terrorism. This way, the police’s spy on American Muslims has been determined by the obvious reason, to prevent and eradicate domestic terrorism. One may pay attention to the fact that when the head of the state authorizes such anti-minority policy, it inevitably becomes endorsed and common, despite its unjust, racist underpinnings.

However, this program actually suggests that Muslim areas seem to have been relatively high terrorists risk zones warranting indiscriminate surveillance (Ramzi, 2012). This way, the NYPD’s all-round tracking of all Muslims as potential terrorists can be considered as an offensive and humiliating practice for this ethnical and religious minority. Hence, this policy makes all American Muslims living in New York vulnerable and inferior members of the society to be categorized minorities.

Overall, it is essential to mention that the current NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices can hardly be called reasonable and effective. The reality demonstrates that these stop-and-frisk laws do not have any feasible effect in terms of crime prevention. According to the recent data, stop-and-frisk practices do not actually decrease crime in comparison with other state. In 2011, 88% of all stops did not result in a summons or arrest; contraband was found only in 2%, and weapons were recovered in only 1% of all stops (McDonald, 2012).

Conclusion

Is it really the New York Police Department to blame or is it something bigger?

Since the stop-and-frisk laws are considered ineffective, the necessity to reveal the reasons for the implementation of these racist practices grows. The first reason is

explained by the fact that some sort of incentive makes the NYPD resort to these practices: New York’s authorities believe that a large number of stops ultimately leads to lowering of a crime rate, and thus, they stimulate the NYPD’ implementation of these stop-and-frisk practices that is supposed to improve police officers’ talents, good performance, and productivity distinguishable and rewarded (Daniel, 2012).

These practices have been used frequently, routinely, and pervasively. In conclusion one must agree that although they have led to some positive results reason police officers often advocate for stopping innocent people is increasingly infuriating and humiliating. Hence, it is no surprise that the current “assertive style of policing” does not lead to any feasible changes in terms of crime prevention (McDonald, 2012) because monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them’ (Cohen, 1996 pp. 17).

Works cited

Cohen, Jeffrey J. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Daniel Šmihula Definition of national minorities in international law. Journal of  US-China Public Administration, Vol. 6, No. 5, October 2009, pp.45-51

Del Carmen, Rolando V. Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2009.

McDonald, Heather. “To See Its Value, See How Crime Rose Elsewhere”. New York Times. 17 July 2012.

New York Police Department (NYPD). Home: Mission & Values. Official Website. 7 December 2012.<http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/administration/mission.shtml>

Ramzi, Kassem. Praying while Muslim. The Nation 2.9 (2012): 25-28. Smith, David J., and Henry Alistair. Transformations of Policing. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.

Wirth, L: The Problem of Minority Groups. New York Columbia University Press, 1945

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