This afternoon, Al Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and the families of Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham led a crowd of several thousand people in a silent (or at least quiet) march down Fifth Avenue to protest the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics. In what the New York Times says was a deliberate effort to offer a “contrast” to some of Occupy’s recent demonstrations, organizers insisted on a “disciplined, orderly” event designed to avoid arrests or confrontations with the police, and it appears to have worked.
The march, which was endorsed by at least 299 unions, religious groups, and cultural organizations, began at 110th Street and ended outside Mayor Bloomberg’s 79th Street home, where the participants dispersed without any apparent incidents. As organizer George Gresham explained, the choice of stopping point was intended to communicate that, “This policy did not emanate from the rank-and-file police officers, and we’re not protesting them. We’re not going to the police commissioner’s home. We’re going to the mayor’s home, because he is the guardian of New York.”
The mayor himself (who said he was “aware” of the march’s route) spent his second Sunday in a row on the pulpit of a mostly black Brooklyn church defending stop-and-frisk. Once again, Bloomberg said the program was responsible for a drop in violent crime, though he also pledged to “do a better job” of treating innocent people “with respect and courtesy.” So, while he likely wasn’t around to actually see the protesters outside his house, it seems that another one of the demonstration’s organizers, Leslie Cagan, was right when she said, “It’s clear that the mayor and police commissioner are hearing the message.” Of course, there’s still the listening part.