Elected Officials, Civil Rights and Community Leaders Support Putting Stop-and-Frisk on Trial
Elected officials, New Yorkers targeted by stop-and-frisk and other discriminatory policing practices, and civil rights and community leaders expressed support for the federal class action lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration’s unlawful use of stop-and-frisk outside of the courthouse today as the trial began. Today’s action kicked off a series of events that will occur outside of the courthouse throughout the trial, highlighting communities impacted by discriminatory policing practices and support for the lawsuit.
“Communities are fed up with the City’s discriminatory policing practices and failure to adequately address them,” said Yul-san Liem of Communities United for Police Reform. “New Yorkers want change and leadership that is committed to policing that will help keep all communities safe, reduce gun violence, and respect our fundamental civil and constitutional rights. This trial represents the rising call for change.”
“The Floyd trial that begins today 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.
“We firmly believe that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and policy is a racially-based violation of basic human rights of people of color in New York City,” said Djibril Toure, a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “We know that our communities are fed up with facing degradation and humiliation by these illegal police stops and searches that have largely yielded no law enforcement or public safety benefit. This trial represents a product of the decades of supporting victims of police violence, conducting “Know Your Rights” trainings and “Copwatch” patrols in neighborhoods throughout New York City.”
“Floyd is part of a citywide movement to end this shameful, massive violation of rights and to help bring about the day that all New Yorkers are treated by their government as equally entitled to walk the streets of their city without harassment,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly’s stop and frisk program is a constitutional catastrophe,” said Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “It is the most aggressive local racial profiling program in the country and has violated the rights of millions of New Yorkers, while failing to make their city safer.”
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.
“This policy is unconstitutional and inhumane and has a disparate impact on so many Black and Latino youth,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. It’s time to stop trying to make political points by harassing hundreds of thousands of young people every day. We all want safer communities, but not at the expense of the civil rights of our brothers and sisters.”
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.
“The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk regime is out of control and has wrought profound harm on New York’s communities of color,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Public scrutiny of this NYPD policy is long over-due.”
“Black and brown New Yorkers are rightfully concerned about the outcome of the stop-and-frisk class action suit,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange. “Everyday dozens of our neighbors, most of whom have done nothing wrong, are subjected to deeply humiliating, illegal stops, searches, and frisks that often lead to unlawful arrests and in some cases serious injury or death. With over 5 million of these dehumanizing stops lodged under the Bloomberg administration, ColorOfChange members remain deeply troubled by the stop-and-frisk abuses and we are committed to achieving real NYPD reform and accountability.”
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.
“In 2011, I was arrested after cops stopped and searched me near my apartment and found condoms in my bag which they used to charge me with prostitution,” said Joanna Vasquez, a member of Make the Road New York. “I was unjustly jailed for a year. I now feel unsafe walking in my own community for fear of being falsely accused again. I am here to demand an end to NYPD stop-and-frisk abuses that unfairly target transgendered, immigrant and other New Yorkers.”
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.
“This trial will publicly put the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices to the test of the Constitution, of common sense, and of community safety,” said Andrea Ritchie, a police misconduct attorney and Co-coordinator of Streetwise and Safe. “The plaintiff class represents men, women, youth and LGBT people of color, homeless, Muslim and immigrant New Yorkers – every community affected by the NYPD’s discriminatory policing practices has a stake in this trial.”
“The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics target low income communities of color; in the South Bronx, where tens of thousands of young black and Latino men are stopped every year, the NYPD uses force during those more often than anywhere else in New York City,” said Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of the Bronx Defenders. “The Floyd trial is bringing much-needed scrutiny to the many ways that NYPD policies harm New Yorkers – especially New Yorkers of color – in every borough of this city.”
“As a father, the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk makes me scared,” said Alfredo Carrasquillo, civil rights community organizer of VOCAL-NY. “I don’t want my son and daughter to experience what my friends and I have gone through and grow up believing the cops are there to harass instead of protect them.”
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.
“This is a historic moment not only for New York City, but for the nation,” said New York NAACP State Conference President Hazel Dukes. “It is not just stop and frisk on trial, but the inherently flawed practice of racial profiling itself. What happens in the courtroom during the Floyd trial will have profound impacts on the administration of justice across the country. All eyes are on New York.”
“Over the years, the respect and the lines of communication between the police and the public, especially in our communities of color, has deteriorated because of the discriminatory way in which policies such as Stop, Question and Frisk are enforced,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Co-Chair of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “How can we trust our law enforcement when we are being judged by the color of our skin? An important goal of the trial Floyd vs. the City of New York is to reform the City’s stop and frisk policy, so that together we can form a collaborative approach in securing our streets.”
“This federal class action lawsuit filed against the NYPD is a call for reform,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Co-Chair of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “Data shows nearly 90% of those stopped were Black or Latino. It’s unacceptable to have a policy in place that suggests it is based on racial profiling. Public safety is achieved with collaboration between the police and the community, and requires building a relationship. However, due to these stop-and-frisk encounters, trust is far from being built. When a very small portion of these encounters result in arrest, it’s hard not to wonder about the effectiveness of the procedure; it’s just a clear sign of the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops.”
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.