Stop-And-Frisk: 'I Remember Feeling Helpless'

Nicholas Peart was a plaintiff in a New York City stop-and-frisk lawsuit. He spoke with the StoryCorps project about being stopped and frisked by the police, while he was out celebrating his 18th birthday.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Now we want to hear from one of the plaintiffs in the New York's stop-and-frisk lawsuit. Nicholas Peart is a lifelong resident of Harlem. He told his story to StoryCorp, that's the national project that records interviews between families and friends across the nation. More than once, he was stopped by police and patted down. One of the first incidents occurred seven years ago while he was out celebrating his 18th birthday, and he talked about that night in his own words.

(SOUNDBITE OF STORYCORP INTERVIEW)

NICHOLAS PEART: I was celebrating my birthday. It had been a late night, so we decided to go to McDonald's but it was closed. A few moments later, three squad cars pull up and they come out with their guns drawn demanding that we get on the ground. They patted us down. They took our IDs and one of the officers, you know, he had wished me a happy birthday, sarcastically. And I remember feeling helpless. And I felt embarrassment. You know, I had my cousins with me and they are from the suburbs and they had never experienced anything like that. But growing up in the city, stop-and-frisk is something that my mother prepared me for. You know, it happens so many times that you start to think that this is a normal thing.

It's about to be three years since my mom passed away and I had became the guardian of my siblings overnight. Barry's 14 now and Julian is 12. It's definitely heartbreaking, you know, that stop-and-frisk is something that I have to inform my brothers about. You know, this is something that you may have to deal with but you know, these are growing boys living in Harlem. They have to be aware of what's going on. You know, so I tried the same techniques that my mother gave me. You know, plant the seed, you know, they may not understand the complexities of everything, but it'll make sense when it really counts.

HEADLEE: That's Nicholas Peart talking to his friend Frank Lopez at StoryCorps in New York. The story was recorded with funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies.

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