Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Like many people heading to the office, Lawrence Rushing carries a briefcase to the courthouse. But the distinguished African American man with the salt and pepper hair isn’t going to a job. He’s retired. Instead, he's coming to observe.
A Brooklyn professor has made a point of attending the federal stop and frisk trial nearly every day since it began three months ago. He has no personal ties to the case. But he believes the lawsuit challenging the way the city has been conducting its stop and frisk tactic is the most important trial focused on race in decades.
Rushing has attended each day of the stop and frisk trial for most of past nine weeks. He arrives at 8:30 a.m. He has a bagel and a coffee in the cafeteria. Then he heads to courtroom 15C where he takes his usual spot in the second row.
The former psychology professor at LaGuardia Community College taught several courses examining race and prejudice. He spoke to WNYC about why he has treated attending the proceedings like a new job.
In a sense it was kind of a liberating feeling. All of a sudden I realized, 'Well you know, if you really want to know what's going on you have to be there.'
I live in the Prospect Lefferts Garden section of Brooklyn. I've seen stops in my neighborhood and it's shocking. ... You don't believe that its happening when it does. But for the people that are being stopped, they’re in a kind of shock. They are kind of speechless. They don't know why its going on or happening.
I was opposed to stop and frisk. What I wanted to see was how it was able to go on. I've learned as a result of being at the trial that its not so much the individual police officer but it is the supervisors at the highest level is where stop and frisk comes (from) and they enforce it on the police officers.
Nobody wants criminals to be dealt with more than the black community because they are often the victims of street crime. But instead of going after the criminals they go after innocent people-- 90 percent of the people they stop are innocent of any crime… If there's one thing a community should be able to do is to protect their children and we are not able to protect our children and this is a horrible blight on us, the older generation.
The population is changing. People are not the way they used to be. People in their 20s and 30s voted for Obama. ... More and more we’re getting good people occupying the cities. For that reason I’m very hopeful something will occur. ... One of the reasons I've been here every day at this trial you know, it's therapy for me because it was so depressing and it has been for so long to see what has been going on in so many communities.
(Photo: Rushing takes copious notes during the stop and frisk trial. Kathleen Horan/WNYC)