By Maurice Bobb
Yasiin Bey is a true hip-hop activist, so to shed light on the NYPD’s racist “Stop & Frisk” practices, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, in collaboration with Communities United for Police Reform, put together a public service announcement video called “Don’t Tread On Me” to get the word out and urge the community to get involved in the fight to end racial profiling by police.
In the three-minute clip, which begins with the line “Stop & Frisk Is An Everyday Reality For Thousands of New Yorkers,” a montage of disturbing images of police stopping minority citizens flashes as an original Bey beat plays in the background. The OMFGOD MC can be seen playing the piano rapping the “Don’t tread on me” refrain, as important arrest statistics ("533,042 stops in 2012") and messages ("Our communities are under siege") are delivered via words and images. One police officer with a blurred-out face gives his account of being forced to participate in the NYPD’s racial profiling initiative.
“People don’t like police because of the harassment,” the officer said. “And what civilians don’t understand is that the police department is forcing us to do these unreasonable stops.”
CPR is pushing for legislation that would substantially reduce the number of encounters between police and residents that are based on profiling and discrimination. NYC’s historic, nine-week long, "Stop-and-Frisk" trial, Floyd v. City of New York, ended this week, however, Judge Scheindlin, who ruled it “unconstitutional to stop and frisk someone simply for being in a so-called high-crime area,” won’t issue her decision in the case for a few months.
For more information about CPR’s initiative or to be part of the movement, please log on to changethenypd.org.