“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life… “Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites.” — Judge Shira A. Scheindlin
The New York Police Department’s highly-controversial “stop and frisk” program is unconstitutional, targets blacks less objectively than whites, and violates the rights of the minorities it targets, a federal judge just ruled this morning. The practice, highly-defended by both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD chief Ray Kelly, actually managed to detain more young black males in NYC than there are young black males in NYC.
In Floyd v. City of New York, Shira A. Scheindlin ruled “stop and frisk” violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of its targets. The judge, however, did not rule the program must be stopped, rather, it will be monitored.
Scheindlin “ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing,” the New York Times reports, but notes Scheindlin says she is “not ordering an end to the practice of stop-and-frisk.”
Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.
These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Judge Scheindlin found that the city “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data.” She rejected the city’s arguments that more stops happened in minority neighborhoods solely because those happened to have high-crime rates.
“I also conclude that the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” she wrote.
The Times adds “the judge designated an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.”
A 2012 Huffington Post article, “NYPD Stop And Frisks: 15 Shocking Facts About A Controversial Program,” included these facts:
More Young Black Men Were Stopped By The NYPD In 2011 Than There Are Young Black Men in New York City
The NYPD Can Stop And Frisk You In Your Building
A Hugely Disproportional Number Of Blacks And Latinos Are Stopped And Frisked By The NYPD
Nine out of 10 of those stopped in 2011 were neither arrested nor given summonses.
Image, top: Protesters marching through Harlem on Father’s Day, 2012, by Thomas Good, via Wikimedia
Image, inset: Veiled demonstrators at a march against racially disproportionate policing in New York City, 17 June 2012, by longislandwins via Wikimedia.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.