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“Stop and Frisk” vs. Youth at Risk

By Linda Leu

Walking the streets of New York got a little easier for almost 300,000 young adults this summer.  A federal court ruled “Stop and Frisk” an unconstitutional violation of the 4th Amendment.  The judge found that “stop and frisk” policies used by law enforcement amounted to racial profiling against young Black and Latino men, which was deemed a violation of the 4th Amendment. In most cases, the young men of color who were stopped were not involved in criminal activity (89% in 2012).

At Young Invincibles, we like to highlight smart youth organizing work that speaks out on injustices that those young organizers see in their communities, so big props to all of the amazing work that lifted up the voices of young people of color  –The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, the Community Justice Network for Youth, to name a few – who shared the experiences and stories of young people online and with key policymakers.

But now that New York City has freed up some resources  – WHAT NEXT?

Comedian W. Kamau Bell joked that the NYPD could change the program to “Stop and Pop”– and stop people, frisk them, and offer them a soda.  OK that’s ridiculous, but hey, WHAT IF we instead took the facts, that young men of color are at great risk for:

… and instead of friskings or sodas, we offer them resources to improve their lives. 

OK, to be serious, I’m not suggesting police stop young people on the streets and offer help with getting insurance or applying for financial aid. What I am suggesting is that government programs that are meant to help young people of color try to reach out and meet us where we’re at.

Enrollment into the new Affordable Care Act health coverage started October 1 and it will be essential for federal and state governments to engage with young adults using social media and mobile technology, and to go to places where young people spend time.   A good example: Covered California, California’s new marketplace for health insurance has been growing a presence on Facebook and Twitter. CC also just launched a mobile app (available on iTunes or Google Play).

But, HEY YOUNG PEOPLE, we can’t just sit around waiting for the government to come to us.  We need to take the initiative to share resources amongst our peers, educate ourselves.  Check out those youth organizers in New York for some inspiration!

Check out YI on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or YouTube, to find out more about how you can get involved in our Healthy Young America Campaign and get involved in providing resources to your friends and peers!

Young Invincibles is dedicated to amplifying the voices of our generation, so we’ve launched an occasional blog series titled “Youth Voices Against Injustice.” The series is aimed at lifting up the voices of young people taking on an injustice in their community. Above is the third post in the series; click here to check out our first blog post from guest contributor Italia Aranda and here to read the second post from Colin Seeberger.

Know other young people speaking up in their communities? Email Jessica Adair at