NEW YORK - Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin has given the go ahead to a lawsuit that challenged the city's stop-and-frisk policies as biased, especially toward Blacks and Hispanics.
Judge Scheindlin said the allegations in the lawsuit were supported well enough to justify a trial to decide if New York's stop-and-frisk policies are legal.
She said the trial can determine whether quotas prompted officers to stop suspects without just cause. She said the trial can also decide whether police leadership has failed to adequately train officers.
Meanwhile, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the NYPD is on track to stop and interrogate a record number of totally innocent New Yorkers in 2011, according to police reports analyzed by the NYCLU.
During the first half of 2011, police made more than 317,000 stops of completely innocent New Yorkers – the overwhelming majority of whom were Black and Latino. The reports come on the same day as the Associated Press reported on an intelligence program focusing on Muslim communities.
“The NYPD is making entire New York City neighborhoods Constitution-free zones,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “It is not a crime to live in a black or Muslim neighborhood, yet the NYPD appears to be treating both communities as if they are all criminals. The real crime here is the absolute lack of oversight and accountability over the NYPD. The NYPD is supposed to be watching out for us, but who’s watching them?”
The NYPD draws upon broad characteristics of communities to justify its aggressive policing activities. In the case of stop-and-frisk, the police justify widespread detention and frisking of hundreds of thousands of innocent young Black and Latino New Yorkers. In the case of Muslim communities, the Associated Press reports of the introduction of undercover surveillance even in circumstances where there is no individualized suspicion of criminal activities.
New stop-and-frisk reports reveal that the NYPD stopped and interrogated New Yorkers 178,824 times between April 1 and June 30. Nearly nine out of 10 of these stops resulted in no charges or citations. This record number of stops fell disproportionately on the city’s communities of color – 91,493 of those stopped were Black and 58,638 of those stopped were Latino, while only 16,893 were white.
Between January 1 and March 31, police stopped and interrogated New Yorkers 183,326 times. Overall, this record number of stops represents a 13.5 percent increase from the stops conducted during the first half of 2010. If stops continue at this pace, the NYPD will conduct a record number of stops in 2011. In 2010, the current record, police stopped New Yorkers 601,055 times.
“Incredibly, the NYPD keeps setting historic highs for the number of people being stopped and frisked and for the number of innocent people being victimized by this practice,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “Stop-and-frisk is out of control and risks destroying police-community relations in many of our city’s neighborhoods.”