Bill Thompson Compares Stop-and-Frisk to George Zimmerman’s ‘Suspicion’

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Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson speaks at the Association for a Better New York breakfast meeting in New York, January 17, 2013
Photo: CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters/Corbis

Like everyone else in the New York mayoral race, Bill Thompson is not quite as interesting as Anthony Weiner. However, he did have what the New York Times called some "unusually personal and provocative" things to say about the city's ever-controversial stop-and-frisk policy. Though Thompson has previously praised Ray Kelly's work as police commissioner, he recently suggested that Kelly, "the architect of an abusive stop and frisk program that targets innocent black and Latino youth for no reason but their skin color," would not be a suitable replacement for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. And, during an appearance at the AbundantLife Church in Prospect Heights, he criticized stop-and-frisk by comparing the practice to the "suspicion" that prompted George Zimmerman to follow Trayvon Martin.

After stating that the justice system "failed Trayvon," Thompson said, "Here in New York City, we have institutionalized Mr. Zimmerman’s suspicion with a policy that all but requires our police officers to treat young black and Latino men with suspicion, to stop them and frisk them because of the color of their skin ... If our government profiles people because of skin color and treats them as potential criminals, how can we expect citizens to do any less?" He added that "the verdict in Florida was a verdict — but it was not the verdict," and called on New Yorkers to ask "hard questions" about how it came to pass. Sure, Thompson's comments were no sexting admission, but they might be worth some thought.