June 10 is the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision in Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court decision that legalized the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk. In recent weeks, the conversation around stop-and-frisk in Philadelphia has escalated, following the arrest of two black men in a Starbucks in Center City.
In partnership with Praise 107.9, the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com has gathered viewpoints on Terry v. Ohio, and its impact on Philadelphia and beyond, including the stories of real Philadelphians, who called into “Your Voice with Solomon Jones” on Thursday.
Comments have been edited slightly for style and clarity.
My first encounter with stop-and-frisk, I was a freshman at Roman Catholic High School walking home with my friend. It was clear that some of those friends were not black and brown, but the black and brown students — me and one of my best friends — were stopped. And I, even at that early age, realized that this was wrong. You feel very helpless. You’ve been taught to cooperate with the police. My parents had always taught me that. But [when you are stopped], something inside of you rises up and knows that this was wrong and that you were treated unfairly. Of course when you’re dealing with law enforcement and how they handle policed bodies, black and brown bodies in particular, it’s always met with aggression and is always met with intimidation. I realized at that early age that when it comes down to stop-and-frisk, me being black, or me wearing a Roman Catholic sweater, is not gonna save me from that type of aggression.
Asa Khalif is a Black Lives Matter activist in Philadelphia.
Listen to Asa’s full story:
I’m from New Jersey. I went to college in the Philadelphia area. This was around the time where the murder rates were rising in the city of Philadelphia. I was in the Southwest section of the city with a couple of my friends who I went to college with. The police happened to come through while we were standing outside. They walked up on us for no reason, asked us for our I.D. No one had any identification, so then the next thing you know, the police call for backup. They had us out there, searching us, held us, ran our names through the computers while we were handcuffed to make sure nobody had any warrants or anything like that.
When they left, there wasn’t “I apologize, my fault” or anything like that. They just hopped in their cars and pulled off. Myself, I felt alienated a little bit. When did they law pass in the country that you couldn’t just stand outside on a summer day?
It wasn’t real traumatic, but it definitely was an experience that just made me feel like that I’m going to start making sure that I don’t want to be in situations where police could confuse my actions with something different. That’s how black men are living their lives nowadays.
Ismil Lamar is behavioral specialist in Philadelphia.
Listen to Asa’s full story:
I was stopped in Brooklyn. I was leaving a comedy club. It was like 3 o’clock in the morning. I had taken the subway to Brooklyn and gotten in a cab from the subway to my house. The cab pulled over — I was about to pay and get out — and lights went off in the back of the car. I figured it was something that the cab driver did.
The police walked up and shined their lights in the car and checked with the driver. They turned their attention to me immediately. They asked me to get out of the car, went through my pockets. The whole time I’m fearful because it’s 3:30 a.m.
I’m an audio junky so I had some recorder in my bag. I was thinking about trying to record the incident. But I’m scared to death. Amadou Diallo [who was shot killed by New York City police in 1999] had a wallet. Sean Bell [was shot and killed by New York City police in 2006]. These egregious things that happened and that’s just in New York.
My whole thing was to survive. I was a single parent at the time, two boys. As angry as I was, I held my composure and tried to get through. And they asked me if I had ID and I said, “Sure, do you?” I gave them my ID and they started to take my information down and collecting names and everything.
I worked on radio in New York, and when we were wrapping up the encounter, I said to them, “I’m going talk about this on my stations.” Their answer to me was, “Oh yeah, what time? We want to hear it.” Just arrogant.
Terrence “T-Storm” Battle is longtime broadcaster, comedian and current Imaging Director for Urban One Philadelphia. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with wife his Keilly that can be found on 4evaeva.com.
Listen to Terrence’s full story:
Hear more interviews with Philadelphians on stop-and-frisk: