Today, the attorneys behind two class action lawsuits that challenged the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s stop-and-frisk and trespass enforcement practices as racially discriminatory and unconstitutional filed a supplemental submission, asking for an investigation into the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing directives to also include the NYPD’s curfew enforcement.
Last week, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Legal Aid Society, and the law firm of Beldock, Levine & Hoffman LLP filed an emergency motion, raising concerns about substantial evidence of continued racial discrimination in the NYPD’s enforcement of social distancing directives. In their emergency motion, the attorneys asked the court to issue a temporary moratorium on the NYPD’s social distancing enforcement, require the court-appointed monitor of the stop-and-frisk cases to investigate the social distancing enforcement, and order the city to provide information related to the NYPD’s social distancing enforcement to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The lawyers argued that the NYPD’s discriminatory actions violated court orders in the two cases, Floyd v. City of New York and Davis v. City of New York, that are part of a court-ordered monitoring of the NYPD.
The supplemental submission filed today requests that the monitor’s investigation and the information provided to plaintiffs’ attorneys include the NYPD’s enforcement of the citywide curfew that was recently ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The curfew was put in place amidst the widespread protests that have occurred over the last week in condemnation of police violence in Black communities and the continued discriminatory policing of the NYPD. The attorneys have grave concerns that the NYPD’s curfew enforcement will illegally target Black and Latinx people in a manner similar to the NYPD’s disparate social distancing enforcement and discriminatory practices, which led to these lawsuits.
“Given the substantial evidence of racial discrimination by NYPD officers during this pandemic, we have no confidence that their enforcement of the mayor’s curfew will be any less biased,” said Jin Hee Lee, LDF’s Senior Deputy Director of Litigation. “If the court-ordered reforms in these cases are to have any credibility for the people in the streets demanding justice, we must thoroughly and vigorously investigate any concerns of systemic racial bias within the NYPD.”
“The propensity for racial discrimination by police officers had been laid painfully bare across the nation in recent weeks,” said Darius Charney, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Black and Latinx communities are rightfully concerned that the NYPD will, as before, disproportionately target them for stops, searches, summonses, and arrests. The court, on behalf of the public, must order an investigation.”
“Last night, despite reports that looting had subsided, we saw curfew enforcement used to target protesters speaking out against police violence affecting Black and Brown people,” said Corey Stoughton, Attorney-in-Charge of the Special Litigation Unit with the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “There is every reason to be concerned that curfew enforcement, like social distancing rules, will be enforced in a manner that overwhelmingly targets our clients, New Yorkers from communities of color. With this filing, we demand transparency on that issue.”
Read the filed submission here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
The Legal Aid Society exists for one simple yet powerful reason: to ensure that New Yorkers are not denied their right to equal justice because of poverty. For over 140 years, we have protected, defended, and advocated for those who have struggled in silence for far too long. Every day, in every borough, The Legal Aid Society changes the lives of our clients and helps improve our communities. www.legalaidnyc.org
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.