Brooklyn Leaders Express Support for Federal Lawsuit against Bloomberg Stop-and-Frisk Policy
Brooklyn leaders joined together with residents of their borough today outside of a federal courthouse to express support for the federal class action lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration’s unlawful use of stop-and-frisk – Floyd v. City of New York. Today’s press conference is one of many events that affected communities and supporters of the lawsuit will be having outside of the courthouse throughout the trial to highlight the broad support for reforming stop-and-frisk, ending discriminatory policing, and improving police accountability.
“The Floyd trial gives hope to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who feel their voices have been stifled by unjust policing practices and the City that supports them,” said New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams. “Stop, question and frisk is not only discriminating against historically disenfranchised communities like mine, it is simply not correlating with any positive improvement in our public safety. The anger in our neighborhoods is real, being witnessed in real time, and change is long overdue. Justice in this case will result in better policing and safer streets for all.”
In the trial Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, several New Yorkers and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) challenge that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy includes racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks that violate the Constitution’s protections against racial discrimination and unreasonable searches and seizures.
“Floyd v. the City of New York represents the frustration and humiliation of thousands of New Yorkers who have been approached by police in suspicion-less stops,” said Council Member Letitia James. “Under this administration, the dramatic increase in the application of stop-and-frisk has needlessly redirected necessary police forces and resources. It is my hope that the findings in this case serve as a notice to the incoming administration that elected officials, advocates, and communities of color cry out for a protocol that respects the rights of all.”
Brooklyn experiences more stop-and-frisks than any other borough in the city. According to the NYPD’s own data, more than 225,000 – a quarter of a million – stops were made in Brooklyn in 2011 alone. Brooklyn 75th precinct, covering East New York and Cypress Hills, had the most stops of any precinct in the city with more than 31,000 – 97% of those stopped were Black or Latina/o.
“Commissioner Kelly always tries to downplay the number of stops police make, but it goes on 24 /7 in my community,” said Aaron Henton, a 28 year old African-American community activist and VOCAL-NY member from East New York who has been stopped more than 30 times by the police. “The police always tell me I 'fit the description' for this or that crime, but I guess to them we all look alike. I work with youth and try to set an example for them, so it makes me wonder how much they must be going through if someone like me in the community is being stopped this often. The time has come to end this injustice before it ruins another generation's relationship with the police.”
The precinct with the second highest number of stops in the city was Brooklyn 73rd in Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn with 25,167 – 98% of those stops were of Black or Latina/o New Yorkers.
“I was attacked by police officers while sitting on my steps next to a group of teenagers who were being stopped,” said Yolanda Matthews, a member of New York Communities for Change’s Brownsville Chapter. “What happened to me is unjustifiable. This stop and frisk policy needs to be changed. It has an adverse affect not only on the youth being stopped but the community at large.”
The Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk practices were criticized and rejected as a violation of the basic civil rights of New Yorkers, particularly those of communities of color.
“We all need our communities and our families to be safe, but we cannot make them safe by denying the fundamental civil rights of our neighbors,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “African-American and Latino young men have just as much right to walk down the street without being stopped by the NYPD as the rest of us. Yet even in Park Slope, 79% of stop-and-frisks target people of color. And Muslim New Yorkers have just as much right to pray without fear of undercover NYPD surveillance as the rest of us. The time has come to end discriminatory policing.”
The use of stop-and-frisk has increased by more than 600% during the Bloomberg administration. New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD over half a million times in 2012 and 5 million stops have been made throughout the Bloomberg administration. Nearly nine in ten of those stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons, and nearly 90% of those stopped were Black or Latina/o.
“Stop-and-frisk is diminishing valuable trust between our communities and law enforcement,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “New York City cannot tolerate a policy that violates the rights of its citizens.”
The Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy was rejected as effective at keeping New Yorkers safe, with the unchanging annual numbers of gun violence victims during Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly’s tenure contradicting their claims about it keeping New Yorkers safe.
Despite the 600% increase in stop-and-frisk between 2002 and 2011, the number of gun violence victims in New York City has remained at nearly the same level of 1,800. The out-of-control use of stop-and-frisk under Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly has alienated communities, damaging their relationship with the NYPD and thus making communities less safe.
The beginning of today’s trial follows years of activism against discriminatory policing and recently increasing opposition to stop-and-frisk across demographic groups. A majority of New Yorkers is opposed to the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy and want change in a new mayoral administration.
While activism and opposition to discriminatory policing practices has occurred for decades, it has broadened significantly over the last year in opposition to the Bloomberg administration’s egregious policies, full-throated defense and failure to adequately address them.
Communities United for Police Reform filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the lawsuit and to advocate that individuals and communities most affected by these discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices be part of uncovering their full scope and developing solutions.
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and policing practices based on cooperation and respect– not discriminatory targeting and harassment.
CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. CPR is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.