Meet the Press   |  August 18, 2013

Universal suspicion and the impact on communities

NAACP president Ben Jealous and Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, discuss the impact policies like stop and frisk have on communities.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i want to welcome to the program now the mother of trayvon martin , sybrina fulton , and her attorney, benjamin crump. also joining me in the studio is president and ceo of the naacp, ben jealous . thank you for all of you joining me this morning. ben, let me start with you. i underlined commissioner kelly saying the stark reality is that violence is happening disproportionately in minority communities. with stop and frisk , lives are saved in those communities.

>> so, this is the problem. we just heard a man who aspires to be the head of the department of homeland security say that his officers had to violate the u.s. constitution to make us safer. that should send chills down the spine of everyone in this country.

>> he would take issue that there's any violation going on, that's why they're appealing the decision, right?

>> that's what a federal judge just found, and that, in our country, it's the federal judge , not the chief, who gets to decide what the u.s. constitution says. now, the problem is that the fall in homicides happened prior to 2002 , and the increase in stop and frisk happened after 2002 . so, there's no relationship between these two. we are now at a point where you have more stop and frisks of young black men in new york city than there are young black men in new york city , and that's why charles blow said, and while the judge quoted him in saying, it's like burning down the house to rid it of mice. just because there are more murders in our community doesn't mean that you can treat all of us like we are guilty. and furthermore, you should pay our communities the respect of actually listening to people when they say this is driving a wedge, this is making us less safe, it's making our kids not just fear the robbers but fear the cops. and so, they're afraid to go and talk to you when they need to go and talk to you. he's just way off base. this is the largest racial profiling -- and this last point. he said this is not a program. it is a program. stop, question and frisk was introduced by mayor giuliani right after the terry versus ohio decision as a specific program in the city. under giuliani, we saw about 80,000 per year, stop and frisks, this racial profiling program. under bloomberg, in 2011 , we have about 680,000, 90% innocent, 90% people of color , and get this, 99.9% don't have a gun. about 700 guns seized.

>> the wider point, sybrina fulton , i welcome you to the program. just your reaction as a mother who's lost her son so tragically and as now someone who's trying to create something positive out of that searing loss by talking about stand your ground laws. you've heard the commissioner of new york say, look, what happened to trayvon martin , even though it was referenced in the judge's ruling, is quite different. that was civilian on civilian. this is about civilians interacting with the police department . do you see that distinction or not?

>> i think it's all about laws, and i think you have to give not only civilians, but you have to give the police officers the right direction. you can't give people the authority, police officers the right to stop somebody because of the color of their skin.

>> let me get benjamin crump in here as well. how do you react to the commissioner saying there's not a distinction when particularly judge sheindlin is raising the specter of trayvon martin , that idea of universal suspicion that charles blow wrote about in saying this is what's wrong with the policy?

>> yes. we're here in phoenix, arizona, and the latino community deals with sb- 1070 and new york is stop and frisk . no matter what you want to call it, essentially, it's racial profiling , and we know trayvon martin was profiled for something that night on february 26th , 2012 , and he had broken no law. he was just walking home. and that's the problem. when you start this racial profiling , it's a slippery slope , and it's so bad for so many in the community. where does it stop? how do we protect our children once you give police or neighborhood watch authority to just profile us?

>> sybrina fulton , i want to come back to you. as you are going around the country, you're in arizona, you talked about the stand your ground laws, trying to get them amended. the idea that there is a trayvon martin voter. can you describe what this period of time has been like for you, how you're trying to turn this pain into some real activism to get some change?

>> well, you know, the death of my son was so negative that we felt that we needed to do something positive to not only help us heal but to help other families of senseless gun violence . and that's why we started the trayvon martin foundation. that's why we're going all over the country to the 21 states that have the stand your ground law to try to make some type of change. we understand it is not going to be done overnight, that it's going to take time to do this, but we're in it for the long haul. we're in it. this is a part of my life now.

>> ben jealous , final point to you. we're in a debate in this country about, in the quest for public safety , whether it's surveillance laws and the nsa, whether it's our policing tactics, how far is too far in the name of public safety . what changes the focus of this debate? what wins this debate to your side of the argument, do you think?

>> we've got to go back to the founding principles of this country. when our founders were courageous enough to say we deserve to be both free and safe. and those who would give up freedom in the name of safety don't deserve either. and that's why it's so important that trayvon's family has stood up, that's why it's so important that so many will be standing up at the march in washington next saturday. that's why it's critical that we all come together and realize at the end daytime, this is not about race. this is about freedom. this is about people in this country being able to walk out the door and not fear the cops when they're not doing anything wrong.

>> benjamin crump has an article about the effect of trayvon martin , an op ed piece in the " washington post " today. benjamin crump, thank you very much. sybrina fulton , we really appreciate your time this morning. and ben jealous , thank you, as always, as well.