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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

Landmark ruling declares NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk tactics violate rights

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Today, United States District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin issued a groundbreaking  decision declaring that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) implements its  controversial stop-and-frisk policy in an unconstitutional manner and violates the rights  of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Judge Scheindlin ordered sweeping reforms – including an independent monitor to oversee the NYPD – to fix the problems.  

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”), with co-counsel the  Legal Aid Society, has filed a related lawsuit, Davis v. City of New York, on behalf  plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s policy and practice of stopping  and arresting public housing residents and their guests for the purported crime of  trespassing. LDF’s case is scheduled for a jury trial before Judge Scheindlin in October.

In her decision, Judge Scheindlin found that the NYPD encourages the targeting of young  Black and Latino men based on crime statistics, which is a form of racial profiling in  violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Between January 2004 and June 2012, 83% of  all individuals stopped by NYPD officers were Black and Latino despite the fact that they  comprise only 52% of New York City’s population. Judge Scheindlin also found that  NYPD officers routinely stopped New Yorkers without reasonable suspicion in violation  of their Fourth Amendment rights. Only 12% of all stops led to an arrest or summons.  

“Judge Scheindlin’s ruling is a historic recognition of the NYPD’s entrenched  discriminatory practices that have violated the rights of Black and Latino New Yorkers  for decades,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. Although the  ruling does not abolish the practice of stop and frisk, it mandates major changes in the  way the policy is implemented to ensure that police officers do not discriminate when  conducting stops. Additionally, Judge Scheindlin has required an independent monitor to  supervise the NYPD and input from numerous stakeholders, including members of the  community where stops most often take place.     

“The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find  abhorrent and what Black men in America must constantly fight,” Judge Scheindlin  wrote in her decision. “It is important to recognize the human toll of unconstitutional  stops. . . No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go  about the activities of daily life.”  

“In the related Davis case, the NYPD’s discriminatory practices are especially pernicious  because they are implemented in people’s homes under the guise of criminal trespass  enforcement,” said Johanna B. Steinberg, Senior Counsel in LDF’s Criminal Justice  Practice.