- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2013

Initiatives such as New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk program inspire others to racially profile suspects and take the law into their own hands, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Monday.

In an interview on MSNBC, Mr. Jealous said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — and others who promote programs that call for racial profiling — must take some responsibility when profiling leads to violence.

Mr. Jealous argued that George Zimmerman, for example, may have been inspired by the racial profiling in New York City and elsewhere. Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted last month in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

“The really sad thing is that [Commissioner Kelly] doesn’t understand how people like him inspire people like George Zimmerman,” Mr. Jealous said. “He really sets a light, if you will, that they gravitate toward. He is responsible for leading the NYPD, but he’s also a role model for all the wannabes and would-bes out there. He’s got to take responsibility for that. He’s running the largest racial profiling program in the country.”

Earlier this month, a federal judge struck down the stop-and-frisk program amid concerns it violated the rights of minorities. New York City is appealing the decision.

Mr. Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are defending the program, casting it as an effective way to fight crime.

“This is something that’s integral to policing. That happens throughout America in any police jurisdiction. You have to do it,” Mr. Kelly said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.