Before Court Hearing Begins in Stop-and-Frisk Appeal, City Leaders, Law Enforcement Associations & Advocates Call for Court to End NYPD Unions’ to End Obstruction on Reforms
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, New York City Council members and other city leaders from the law enforcement and advocacy communities were joined by New Yorkers from across the city to urge the Court of Appeals to lift its stay on the court-ordered stop-and-frisk reform process and end NYPD unions’ obstruction. The group, convening just prior to the beginning of the first court hearing with oral arguments on the appeal, also demanded that the police unions stop using frivolous legal maneuvers to block the beginning of the reform process, in which they would be a participant, and decouple the issue from their contract negotiations with the city.
“New Yorkers and communities whose rights have been violated by stop-and-frisk abuses should not be forced to wait any longer for their civil rights to be protected,” said Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform. “The court of appeals must uphold the legal rights of all New Yorkers by lifting its stay and allowing the reform process to move forward, and should deny NYPD unions’ recurring attempts to create gridlock. It’s time for the police unions to do what’s right for our city and their members, and allow this collaborative process that includes both communities and police officers to move our city forward.”
Just weeks ago, many of the groups announced the filing of legal briefs opposing the obstinate efforts by NYPD unions to appeal the federal court ruling that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional. Amicus briefs opposing the police unions’ efforts to intervene and impede the process were 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.
The police unions have slowed the joint remedy process related to the successful federal lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices to a halt with endless legal maneuvering. 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.
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.
In August of 2013, a Federal court ruled that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk program was 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.
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.
“The unions have no standing in this case, and they are years late to the party—if they thought they had a role to play, they should have tried to intervene in the trial in the first place, not play games with the appeal after the fact,” said Vince Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights. “All they are doing is trying to block the long overdue collaborative reform process that so many in this city have been waiting for years to begin. A reform process, I should point out, that the court has already asked the unions to take part in.”
“It is time that we enact justice for communities that have been affected by stop-and-frisk abuses,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. Police unions were previously denied intervening status in the federal stop-and-frisk litigation; yet today they have persisted in their attempts to impede the process through the contract negotiation process. Enough is enough— these reforms cannot be further delayed. Let us stand united as we continue to improve the safety of city residents.”
“I join our allies and colleagues in calling upon NYC’s police unions to end their appeals of the Floyd ruling,” said Council Member Brad Lander, “so we may join together to work on improving the dynamic between law enforcement and communities of color and low-income communities in this city and keeping all New Yorker’s safe, which is so sorely needed.”
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus, District 2 stated: “Today marks another attempt by the police unions to stall a process that has improved police-community relations in other cities. This City's unconstitutional utilization of Stop and Frisk as perpetuated primarily on communities of color is what's responsible for the poor relations that currently exist. If the police unions and the Department are serious about CPR (Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect), then we need to move forward with the implementation of the court ordered reforms.”
“For years the New York Police Department’s overuse and abuse of the strategy known as Stop and Frisk divided our City, came to be viewed by many as a form of racial profiling that fell short of applying a single standard of justice to all New Yorkers, and undermined law enforcement’s relationship with law abiding residents,” Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx, 16th CD), chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee, said. “Further delays in the implementation of the Floyd decision will only serve to undermine the public’s confidence in our legal system and I respectfully urge all parties to join together to expeditiously implement this landmark decision so that we can ensure that the public safety and constitutional liberties of all New Yorkers are protected.”
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU stated: “Baseless fear-mongering does nothing to make New York City safer or close the book on the tale of two cities,”. It's time to move forward and embrace the court-ordered reforms that will permanently end stop-and-frisk abuse. New Yorkers need an NYPD that treats everyone with dignity and respect.” --
“The NAACP remains steadfast in our support of the much needed remedies ordered in the Floyd v. City of York class action lawsuit,” said Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference. “We need law enforcement officers who are tuned into the needs of the communities they serve, who work with our communities to end racial profiling and implement proven community-based policing practices that will make us all safe.”
Djibril Toure of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement said: “From Ferguson to New York City, from the streets to the courts, the call for police reform is building and will not be stopped. The police unions' attempts to delay justice will fail. The people are showing up and the people will win.”
“With a decrease in reported stops in the last year and Commissioner Bratton speaking to the end of the stop and frisk era, it would be easy to assume it is no longer an issue worth fighting,” said Julien Terrell of The Brotherhood Sister Sol. “However, the reality of our members and alumni still experiencing bias based stops calls for us to continue. The Floyd Remedy Process is a necessary space for us to truly end the unconstitutional use of this policy.”
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.