Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Blog

By Dena Elian
Fall Intern, 2013

U.S. Constitution

Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayoral candidate who labeled himself as the anti-Bloomberg, claimed a victory as lofty as his 6-foot 5-inch stature in the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday night.

Whether de Blasio will be subject to a runoff election has yet to be announced. The public advocate was required to win 40% of the votes in order to avoid having to face a second round of primary elections. The eventual Democratic nominee will go up against Republican Joe Lhota, winner of the Republican primary race and former chief of New York's transport agency.

An attention-grabbing position of de Blasio’s was his strong opposition to “stop and frisk,” a controversial program implemented by the New York Police Department (NYPD) that allows officers to detain, question, and search individuals upon suspicion that they have committed or intend to commit a crime. Last month a federal judge issued a long and emphatic ruling finding the practice unconstitutional. Unlike de Blasio, Mayor Bloomberg supports the practice and has praised it for contributing to the NYPD’s “record of success.”

In an attempt to examine the program’s application across New York, de Blasio initiated a report that exposed troubling racial disproportions between the number of white New Yorkers who were stopped versus the number of black and Latino New Yorkers stopped for every weapon yielded. De Blasio has since called for elimination or reform of the policy and an overhaul of the NYPD’s current leadership.

Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, emphasized the urgency for New Yorkers to head to the polls and vote for a candidate they believe will fight to end “stop and frisk” in her interview with the Huffington Post two weeks ago. Sarsour learned in recent weeks that her organization is one of many labeled by the NYPD’s Intelligence Division as a “Terrorism Enterprise” in order to justify surveillance on this and other organizations and institutions of Arab and Muslim affiliation.

If elected, De Blasio says that he will commit to establishing an independent inspector general who would monitor the NYPD and will put an end to racial profiling. It’s essential that Arab American New Yorkers cast their votes in months to come: a new mayor means a new era.

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