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Judge: New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy is Unconstitutional

Kalia Abiade • Aug 14, 2013

In a landmark victory for civil rights, a federal judge ruled Monday that the New York Police Department’s problematic stop-and-frisk policy violates constitutional rights and must be changed. 

The ruling comes after a four-month-long trial that has shined light on sanctioned racial profiling in the NYPD, despite claims to the contrary by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. In the past 11 years, more than 5 million people have been stopped without warrant, and more than 86 percent of those stopped were Black or Latino. Almost 90 percent of those stopped were released without charge.

“I also conclude that the city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote.

The class-action lawsuit was brought by the Center of Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the law firms of Beldock, Levine, and Hoffman and Convington & Burling, LLP.

“Today is a victory for all New Yorkers. After more than 5 million stops conducted under the current administration, hundreds of thousands of them illegal and discriminatory, the NYPD has finally been held accountable. It is time for the City to stop denying the problem and work with the community to fix it.” CCR said in a statement.

CCR is part of a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers, and activists campaigning to end discriminatory law enforcement practices in New York. We celebrate this victory and acknowledge there is still work to be done. As of now, there are two existing lawsuits challenging the police department’s Muslim surveillance program, a new NYPD inspector general and looming questions about a Community Safety Act  to ensure fair policing.

Judge Scheindlin’s decision is a positive step toward reforming the NYPD and setting a standard for police departments across the country.

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