City Leaders, Law Enforcement Associations & Advocates Call for NYPD Unions to End Obstruction on Stop-and-Frisk Reforms, Stop Holding New Yorkers’ Rights Hostage to Contract Negotiations
New Yorkers stress need for court-ordered reform process inclusive of affected communities and other stakeholders to enact lasting reforms beyond just drop in number of stops
New York, NY — New York City elected officials joined Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and a number of law enforcement and advocacy organizations to demand that NYPD unions stop using frivolous legal maneuvers to block the court-ordered reform process to stop-and-frisk and decouple the issue from their contract negotiations with the city. Many of the groups also announced the filing of legal briefs opposing the obstinate efforts by the police unions to appeal the ruling and slow the remedy process related to the successful federal lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. Police unions recently filed a new appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals after being denied intervening status in the federal stop-and-frisk lawsuit by Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres.
“New Yorkers and communities whose rights have been violated by stop-and-frisk abuses have waited far too long for reform, since the court first decided to uphold their civil rights over a year ago,” said Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform. “It is unacceptable for the constitutional rights of New Yorkers to be held captive to the political whims of police unions’ contract negotiations with the city. This only further harms the same communities whose government sanctioned abuses against them, and that’s not only unacceptable but deplorable. Police unions should do right by both New Yorkers and the officers they represent by supporting the Joint Remedial Process to move forward, rather than continuing a lost Bloomberg-era fight.”
While the number of stops conducted by the NYPD has drastically declined according to police department data, the central reforms necessary to permanently protect the civil rights of New Yorkers have yet to move forward. The federal court decision that found the city’s stop-and-frisk practices unconstitutional was not simply about the number of stops, but was focused on New Yorkers being stopped – and sometimes frisked – without legal justification. Police unions’ obstruction efforts only delay the beginning of a collaborative process that would unite communities with law enforcement and other stakeholders in developing reforms and solutions to stop-and-frisk abuses that violated New Yorkers’ civil rights. That process is critical to ensuring there are lasting reforms, beyond just the decrease in the number of stops conducted, to protect the fundamental civil rights of New Yorkers.
Amicus briefs opposing the police unions’ efforts to intervene and impede the process are being filed by Communities United for Police Reform with over 50 organizational signatories, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James with other elected officials including the New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus, law enforcement associations, and legal experts.
“With the support of elected leaders and civil rights advocates, this administration ended the city's opposition to the stop and frisk litigation,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “As we continue to heal the relationship between minority communities and the NYPD, I join the many voices calling on police unions to end their opposition to these needed, court-ordered policing reforms. It is imperative as we move forward that the police unions demonstrate unity with all New Yorkers as we continue to improve the safety of city residents.”
In August of 2013, a Federal court ruled that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk program were unconstitutional. The Bloomberg administration and police unions sought to appeal the ruling and delay the implementation of the court’s joint remedy process. In January, the de Blasio administration reached an agreement with plaintiffs to drop the city’s appeal and move forward with the process, and Judge Torres recently signed off on the agreement which led to the city officially dropping its appeal.
Judge Torres also rejected police unions’ motion to intervene in the case. Nonetheless, NYPD unions continue with legal maneuvers that delay all court-ordered reforms, including the development and enactment of lasting reforms to protect New Yorkers’ basic civil rights. Oral arguments in the police unions’ new appeal of the lower court ruling denying them intervenor status will begin on October 15.
Under the Bloomberg administration, the use of stop-and-frisk increased by more than 600%. 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. New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD over half a million times in 2012 and over 5 million stops were made throughout the Bloomberg administration. The NYPD’s own data showed its exploding, discriminatory use of stop-and-frisk failed to make a notable impact on gun violence.
“We must honor Judge Scheindlin’s landmark decision that unreasonable and discriminatory searches are unconstitutional,” said New York City Council Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Antonio Reynoso and Donovan Richards. “Caucus members serve under the principle that partnership with communities and police accountability will lead to greater public safety therefore this obstructive appeal must be stopped. We look forward to starting the Joint Reform Process as this step, along with court ordered monitoring, will launch the collaboration necessary to right this institutional wrong.”
Council Member Rosie Mendez, co-chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus stated, “We need to move forward in this City knowing that there is a clear plan to reform the policies of the NYPD that have trampled over our constitutional rights as individuals and that has disproportionately targeted communities of color. It is unacceptable that while we attempt to identify or implement reforms that would help improve community-police relations, police unions are holding up the process. We need to allow the court ordered reforms to be take place.”
Djibril Toure of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement said, “In 1999, I was a plaintiff in the 1st stop-and-frisk lawsuit, Daniels v NYC. Now, 15 years later, we refuse to wait any longer for change. We need the implementation of the Floyd remedies to begin now. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Loyda Colon, Justice Committee Co-Director stated, “As we have seen in several cases recently, police stops - which may seem harmless to those not subjected to them - can lead to brutality and even homicide. Enough is enough. We can wait no longer to affect real change to the NYPD's discriminatory practices.”
Julien Terrell, Lead Organizer at Brotherhood Sister Sol said, “At a time where trust in Commissioner Bratton and NYPD is at its lowest, now is not the time for the PBA to continue stalling the process. They have gotten their days in court and have been denied. Now is the time to step aside and allow our communities’ solutions drive the true ending of these bias police practices.”
Adilka Pimentel of Make the Road New York said, “New Yorkers deserve to have their constitutional rights protected from stop-and-frisk abuses regardless of the volume of stops being conducted. While the NYPD-reported number of stops has decreased, unlawful stops are continuing every day. Members and staff of Make the Road New York, including me, continue to be unlawfully stopped. The practice still continues without the implementation of the court-ordered reform process, leaving too many New Yorkers vulnerable to the same abusive practices that existed when stops were being conducted at epidemic proportions. The police unions should play a productive role that helps heal the divisions between communities and officers, not exacerbate rifts that decades of discriminatory policing have created by continuing to block lasting and meaningful change.”
Ade’ Singleton, a member of Picture the Homeless stated, “Having been a victim of stop-and-frisk and overuse of force, the Floyd Case is still very important to me. It is also important for all of the seemingly voiceless and silent victims and sufferers of police misconduct and abuse of power.”
Madel Hidalgo, FIERCE Member stated, “As a community member, I believe it's important to have transparency between the cops and the people. The longer the police union appeal continues, the longer our communities remain in danger of having our rights violated and are left in the dark, unable to make important changes to discriminatory and abusive stop-and-frisk practices.”
Fahd Ahmed, Acting Executive Director of DRUM - South Asian Organizing Center said, “With the apparent decline in the numbers of stop-and-frisks, we are now seeing an increase in other forms of profiling by the police. We strongly believe that the remedial processes need to start, and that affected communities must at the center of the process to truly address the deeper causes of discriminatory profiling.”
Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference stated, “The NAACP continues to stand behind the need to implement the much needed remedies ordered by Judge Shira Scheindlin in the Floyd v. City of New York class action lawsuit. Our communities continue to suffer from racial profiling and other ineffective policing practices and we are committed to improving policing in the City and working to increase public safety for us all.”
Kirsten John Foy, Northeast Regional Director of National Action Network said, “The police unions should not be infusing politics and personality into federal legal proceedings. The Federal Courts, the People of New York City and the new Administration have declared a new vision and a new day for police and policing in our city. It's time for the police unions to get on the people's side.”
Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy stated, “The people of New York have suffered the indignities and disrespect of discriminatory and unconstitutional policing practices for too long. It is time to begin the process of community engagement and policy reform.”
Andrea Ritchie, a police misconduct attorney and Coordinator of Streetwise and Safe (SAS) said, “Many of the hundreds of LGBTQ youth SAS comes into contact with every year through “know your rights” workshops and outreach continue to report that, despite recent declines in reported numbers of stops, they continue to be frequent targets of NYPD profiling and discriminatory, unlawful and abusive stop-and-frisk practices. The remedial process outlined by the District Court creates unprecedented opportunities for LGBTQ youth of color to have a say in how to put an end to violations of their rights by the NYPD. We urge the Court of Appeals to deny the police unions’ latest efforts to get in the way of increased safety for LGBTQ youth in New York City.”
Alyssa Aguilera, Political Director of VOCAL-NY stated, “Every day the Floyd remedial process is delayed, low-income communities of color fall victim to a system of abusive and discriminatory policing practices. Enough with the obstruction, we need this process to rebuild trust and accountability between community and police today.”
Demetrius Thomas , Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ Policy Associate for Criminal Justice said, “The only way to begin the long road to restoring faith in the NYPD with the communities most affected by their discriminatory police practice of 'Stop-and-Frisk’ is for this Court to uphold the district court’s decision and expedite the mandated remedies.”
Shelby Chestnut, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the NYC Anti-Violence Project stated, “The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) supports the Floyd remedies because we work with thousands of LGBTQ people who are subject to discriminatory policing practicing for their perceived or actual gender identity or sexual orientation and should be involved in the Joint Remedial Process, We call for swift efforts to ensure the solutions to discriminatory policing are addressed in New York City.”
Mike Selick, Participant Action and Education Coordinator at New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE) said, “New Yorkers have waited long enough; it is time to start the joint remedy process to ensure the NYPD respect our rights and protect our neighborhoods. Community members see the impacts of unconstitutional policing everyday on the street and we deserve an opportunity to help improve the way our community is policed.”
Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director at Jews for Racial & Economic Justice said, “As progressive Jews in New York from all racial backgrounds, we stand firmly against the NYPD's use of broken windows policing to target low income communities of color. We are united with CPR in pushing for strong and independent oversight for the NYPD to put an end to racial profiling at the core of practices like stop-and-frisk.”
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.