Thousands of civil rights activists took part in a silent march through Harlem Sunday, calling for an end to racial profiling and the New York City Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.
The Reverend Al Sharpton and NAACP President Ben Jealous joined the families of Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham as they walked along Fifth Avenue from 110th Street to 79th Street, passing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s residence.
Critics say the stop-and-frisk policy unfairly targets hundreds of thousands of blacks and Latinos each year.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended stop-and-frisk as an effective way to get guns off the streets and save lives.
Speaking to the Christian Cultural Center in East New York earlier Sunday, Bloomberg again defended the program but acknowledged improvements are needed.
“I understand why some people want us to stop making stops. Innocent people who are stopped can be treated disrespectfully. That is not acceptable,” Bloomberg said. “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you deserve nothing but respect and courtesy from the police.”
Bloomberg said the police commissioner expects the number of stops to decline in the coming months.
He also said he continues to meet with Reverend Al Sharpton to work on improving police-community relations.