New information is out this week from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the city’s branch of the ACLU. They’re a group dedicated to protecting the civil liberties and the civil rights of New Yorkers. The report they released this week is an analysis of data recorded by the NYPD showing that police disproportionately handcuff Black and Latino students.
If this feels a little like “Um, duh, we’ve been saying this for years,” – well you’re not alone.
While trying to quantify racial inequality and systemic racism with numbers and figures is important for larger conversations and action to take place, this one does feel like a no-brainer. The NYPD has had an issue with handcuffing minors for a while. A glaring example of this is when a 7-year-old boy from the Bronx was handcuffed and interrogated over “a playground dispute involving $5” back in 2013. Since then, laws have changed to allow data to be gathered into reports like the one put out by the NYCLU. With this new report out however, social media definitely responded.
But first, the data.
The report, out this week, collected and analyzed data that the NYPD had previously never collected or released to the public. Because of amendments to current student safety laws passed in 2015, the NYPD is now required to collect data on arrests and handcuff usage on students. This information was then taken by the NYCLU and broken down by the racial background of students who were handcuffed in crisis situations. These crisis situations are defined in the the NYCLU website:
“A “child in crisis” incident is one where a student “displaying signs of emotional distress” is removed from the classroom and taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.”
The report goes on further to describe the actual numbers collected. They’re both shocking and unfortunately all too familiar:
“In 2016, there were 262 “child in crisis” incidents where handcuffs were used – and 99 percent of those incidents involved Black or Latino children.”
For those of us not doing the math, that’s 3 students out of 262 that were handcuffed who were not Black or Latino.
The NYCLU twitter account posted about their analysis.
Just analyzed the data: Turns out 99% of students handcuffed by NYPD in public schools were Black or Latino: https://t.co/njZKb1N2zi
— NYCLU (@NYCLU) May 9, 2017
The responses began immediately. Some were sarcastic.
— Adam (@thughugger) May 9, 2017
Many were just angry.
— Elva (@ElvaF2009) May 9, 2017
And some were just hurt.
— Carrie ✌️❤️? (@carrie_j1975) May 9, 2017
There were those that thought the data was justified, however.
— mike callaway (@mikecallaway6) May 9, 2017
Tweets aside, the analysis of this data is extremely important, albeit obvious.
Via: Giphy / Hupperts / Tumblr
One really important point in the NYCLU report that can’t be overlooked is:
“More must be done to eliminate extreme racial disparities in who is arrested and given summonses, to cut back on the number of children who are unnecessarily handcuffed and to curtail the NYPD’s role in school discipline.”
As obvious as it seems that this is occurring, documentation, data and analysis is a key part of understanding the problem so change can indeed occur.