City drops lawsuit against racial profiling law from stop-and-frisk package

March 7, 2014
Chester Jesus Soria
Metro NY

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that the city would abandon its lawsuit against a controversial law that expand the city’s anti-profiling laws.

The case was a leftover from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who along with police unions sued to stop the bill due to concerns that it would muddle the courts by allowing plaintiffs to sue individual officers.

“There is absolutely no contradiction in protecting the public safety of New Yorkers and respecting their civil liberties,” de Blasio said in a statement. “In fact, those two priorities must go hand-in-hand. No New Yorker should ever face discrimination based on the color of his or her skin.”

The law, passed by the City Council in August, was a part of the Community Safety Act. It which was drafted as a response to what advocates said was rampant abuse of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy that unfairly targeted black and Latino men. It also expanded protections against profiling based on gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, citizenship or housing status and more.

The profiling law itself does allow New Yorkers to seek “injunctive or declaratory” but not financial relief from the NYPD in state court. The previous ban on profiling only allowed lawsuits on a federal level.

While it’s unclear if the police unions will continue the lawsuit without the city, Capital New York reported on Tuesday that their leaders are willing put a second suit on the table during contract negotiations with the de Blasio administration.

In january, de Blasio also announced it would drop the city’s suit against a judge’s order to bring major stop-and-frisk related reforms to the Police Department in late January. The unions were still considering continuing the case at the time.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled last year that the NYPD inadvertently racially profiled blacks and Latinos through stop-and-frisk. As a remedy, she appointed an independent monitor to oversee reforms for what attorneys now argue would be five years.

Advocacy group Communities United for Police Reform praised the city’s dropping of both suits, but condemned the police unions for their willingness to use lawsuits as bargaining chips.

“It is disgraceful that NYPD unions are attempting to hold the civil rights of New Yorkers hostage as leverage for their contract negotiations,” wrote a spokeswoman for the group.