Under growing pressure, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee clarified his position Tuesday, on a controversial crime-fighting policing policy called “Stop and Frisk.”
Under the policy, New York and Philadelphia have both empowered police officers to stop and search anyone they suspect of carrying a gun.
Lee suggested last month he would be open to considering such a policy to help combat a recent spike in gun violence and homicides in San Francisco’s Bayview and Ingleside districts.
Protestors gathered outside City Hall for a rally to demand that Lee withdraw the proposal.
“‘Stop and Frisk,’ plain and simple, is a predatory policing practice that marginalizes and targets people of color,” said Theo Ellington of the Young Black Democrats.
That group, along with fifty others, gathered 2,000 signatures on a petition opposing the measure which they presented to the mayor’s office Tuesday afternoon.
By late Tuesday, Mayor Lee appeared to have softened on the idea.
“We’re still taking a look at it, but we obviously don’t want to be violating anyone’s fourth amendment rights,” Lee said.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects a person against unreasonable searches and seizures, but in New York City, where “Stop and Frisk” is already a matter of practice, a recent survey done by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that officers made 686,000 “Stop and Frisk” searches last year.
In 88% of the cases, the person didn’t do anything wrong, and 53% of those stopped were African Americans between the ages of 17 and 24.
Mayor Lee said he would support a “Stop and Frisk” policy only if officers had a reasonable and legal cause to search someone.
He said he’s open to anything that could help quell the violence, regardless of what it’s called.
“If it means rephrasing it, I will clearly be open to that, but I have to get to the guns. But we’ve got to stop the violence.”