Non-News Williamsburg Hipster Bashing Makes Gawker’s Front Page

03/26/2012 1:17 PM |



In light of the racial scrutiny surrounding the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices, this past weekend the Daily News published an article examining complaints from an unexpected, largely unmentioned group of people in the debate. According to the paper, young, white Williamsburgers feel they also bear an unfair burden of police profiling. The article caught the attention of Gawker, where it is now drawing the ire of hipster-bashing commenters.

It’s pretty ugly. The white, Billyburg position comes off as spectacularly myopic on the larger injustices of the stop-and-frisk system. After all, Williamsburg whites, 59 percent of the population, made up 10 percent of the 90th precinct’s stop-and-frisks, whereas blacks and Latinos made up 88 percent. The following is an especially cringeworthy read:

A 27-year-old barbershop manager said a plainclothes cop frisked him in Grand Ferry Park after spotting him rolling a marijuana joint under an umbrella as he sat with his ex-girlfriend in the rain.

The manager, who asked not to be identified, said he confessed to having the drug, was patted down, and walked away with no summons.

“I had a bright pink shirt on that day,” the manager said. “I was an easy target.”

Groan. But who are these goobers anyway? “White guys in Williamsburg said that poor artists and aggressive bike messengers will easily catch an officer’s eye,” the Daily News explains. Okay, we’re following. White guys in Williamsburg said so…but how many exactly? Fifteen? Twenty? I’d like to find their Williamsburg white guy Facebook group so I can tell them that in the broader context of police profiling they’re being patently ridiculous.

Just one, apparently.

It looks like the only “Williamsburg white guy” the News found (other than Pink Shirt, who was stopped for obvious reasons) was a 20 year-old with a mohawk. He is the only other young, white Williamsburger quoted in the article, and the only one who complains he is stereotyped.

“It’s not about race. It’s about class,” said goth guitarist Nate Morgan, 20, detailing several recent encounters with cops in East Williamsburg. “I have a mohawk. They stereotype me.”

The skinny 5-foot-9 musician, sporting green nail polish and a long leather trench coat, said officers grilled him one recent night because he was carrying an iced coffee.

“They were like, ‘Do you have alcohol in that?’ They stopped me and looked at my pupils,’ ” Morgan said. “People get stopped for the way that you look.”

Hold up…how is this the basis for an article? One peeved 20 year-old with a mohawk is suddenly representative of an entire socioeconomic group? Didn’t this writer learn that at least “three” make a trend?

It’s a non-news news story, and a feeble attempt to engage in the breezy, old American pastime of hipster bashing. I’d like to believe that most reasonable people—white Williamsburg included—can agree that race-based discrimination is still a reality, and that blacks and Latinos get the short end of the stick. At last week’s million hoodie march for Trayvon Martin, races and ethnicities of all kinds were present. Hipster-lookin’ types too.