Mission Impossible: The Mormons Take Harlem
Out on the streets with four young missionaries assigned to canvass Manhattan’s historic African-American core.
The police appeared without warning one December night in Harlem, hustling five passing young men against the front wall of the Mormon Church at 128th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. Just feet away, a Mormon missionary, wearing her long black coat and tall boots, was dispensing hot chocolate from an orange Gatorade cooler. She was adding to an already alluring display of steaming paper cups, laid out on a table next to blue pleather copies of the Book of Mormon. Two male missionaries in white collared shirts, black jackets and ties continued their animated conversations with passersby who had stopped at the table for a warm drink. And a fourth missionary, hymnal in hand, led a spirited group of young Mormons in singing Christmas carols.
The cops were frisking the young black men, a scene not all that unusual in Harlem these days, with New York’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy in full effect—a policy by which NYPD officers can stop and pat down anyone on t…
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