Still Not Understanding Stop And Frisk, Right-Wing Media Now Misinforming On Chicago Policing

Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

Right-wing media have repeatedly misrepresented the latest court opinion finding New York City has been unconstitutionally applying the common police tactic of stop and frisk and are now baselessly citing the murder rate in Chicago as an example of what will occur without this law enforcement practice.

Confronted by the most recent court opinion finding the version of stop and frisk implemented by the New York Police Department (NYPD) unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of race and without reasonable suspicion, right-wing media have either ignored the constitutional flaws or have inaccurately assumed that the court held all stop and frisks unconstitutional.

In their defense of current practices a federal court found were not consistent with proper stop and frisks as described by the Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio, right-wing media have also claimed that without police unconstitutionally stopping persons of color, New York City will descend into terror and criminality.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has predicted that "the virtual war zone that was New York City from the 1970s through the early '90s" will return. Fox News hosts and contributors have called ending the unconstitutional practices that purportedly check the "disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by young minority men" and protect "people who are trying to get by, not get killed, not get robbed, not get raped on the streets of New York," a "disaster." The National Review Online editors warned the practice condemned by federal courts is nevertheless what is "prevent[ing] the city's backsliding into its pre-Giuliani state of criminal chaos[.]"

Compounding their dire but abstract warnings of the "mass murder" that will occur, right-wing media are now becoming more specific, pointing to Chicago as the future of a New York City without its current and unconstitutional stop and frisk tactics.

On the August 14 edition of The Five, Fox News host Eric Bolling flatly claimed that the higher murder rate in Chicago is because it doesn't "have stop and frisk," continuing a string of recent Fox News comparisons between the two cities. The New York Post repeated this rhetoric, adding its own long-standing touch of exploiting victims of gun violence to promote stop and frisk as applied by the NYPD.

But right-wing media apparently is unaware Chicago, like many jurisdictions, already has stop and frisk.

Recently, the Chicago police superintendent - who is himself an NYPD veteran - felt compelled to publicly explain this fact. As reported by Chicago's WBEZ:

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says a ruling on New York City's stop and frisk policy will not affect the way police operate in Chicago.

For starters, McCarthy says there's a lot of confusion over exactly what stop and frisk is. He says it's not a New York City police department program.

"Stop and frisk is a tactic that every department in the country uses because we have to stop people when we're going to arrest them.  We have to frisk them if we're in fear of a weapon being present, which endangers our safety," McCarthy said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at police headquarters. "I'm not sure what happened in New York where it came off the rails if it did come off the rails or if it's something that's being misinterpreted."

Right-wing media are depending on both ignorance of the law and common police practices to defend stop and frisks that are currently unconstitutional as practiced by the NYPD. Ultimately, what right-wing media are struggling to conceal was most recently articulated on CNN by Newt Gingrich, who argued that society has a choice between constitutional rights and police "establishing a sense of order."

It's this false choice that is the real danger, not the dystopian fantasies of right-wing media's scare-mongering.

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