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Stop and Frisk on Trial in NYC

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Floyd v. City of New York challenges the unconstitutional police stops of thousands of Blacks and Latinos across New York City.

The landmark case, Floyd v. City of New York, is currently on trial before Judge Shira Scheindlin in a Manhattan federal court.  The plaintiffs in Floyd charge the NYPD with maintaining a policy and practice of unreasonable, suspicionless and racially discriminatory stops in violation of the constitution.   The Floyd case is related to Davis v. City of New York, the LDF/Legal Aid Society lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s practice of unlawfully stopping and arresting African-American and Latino public housing residents and guests for the alleged crime of trespass. 

Developments in the Floyd trial will have a significant impact on Davis, which is also pending before Judge Scheindlin.  One Floyd witness, Nicholas Peart, is a public housing resident in Harlem, who testified about getting stopped and frisked by the NYPD for doing nothing more than walking to his own home from the gym.  Another witness, NYPD Officer Adhyl Polanco, offered compelling testimony about how pressures within the NYPD to meet quotas have had the effect of driving up the number of stops, summonses and arrests made by officers throughout New York City.  Indeed, Officer Polanco testified about how, in neighborhoods like his own (Washington Heights), residents are arrested for trespass simply for going outside to get some fresh air when their apartment becomes too hot or crowded in the summertime. 

With Floyd, the NYPD’s flagrant disregard for the rights of New York City’s communities of color is finally on trial.  The evidence presented thus far makes clear that institutional reform of the NYPD is both necessary and imperative to protect the constitutional rights of Black and Latino New Yorkers and to heal their wounds of distrust of law enforcement that have festered from these longstanding, unlawful practices.