An editorial written by The New York Times this morning issues a blistering attack against the City’s practice of stop-and-arrests in public housing facilities. Recently, the Court granted class-certification in a lawsuit that LDF and co-counsel Legal Aid Society have brought on behalf of our clients who are stopped and arrested in their own homes.
Many of these unconstitutional stops and arrests are the product of “vertical sweeps,” a practice of stopping individuals in or around common areas of NYCHA residences without individualized suspicion. But these illegal pedestrian checkpoints are only erected in communities of color.
And although this case, Davis v. City of New York, greatly overlaps with related cases mentioned in the editorial, the practice of stop-and-arrests is especially pernicious because these arrests occur in peoples homes and violate the sanctity of the home. Most importantly, residents of public housing facilities don’t actually want to eliminate police presences from public housing facilities. They seek a more compassionate and productive police presence.
Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan made the right decision last week when she granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by public housing residents and visitors who say they were illegally stopped or arrested by the police in their buildings.
The ruling in Davis v. the City of New York clears the way for a trial in one of three federal class-action suits challenging different aspects of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program, under which hundreds of thousands of times a year people are detained, often while doing nothing wrong.
Judge Scheindlin, who oversees all three cases, has issued a blistering series of rulings making it clear that many police stops in New York City violate the Fourth Amendment. Courts have long ruled that police officers can legally stop and detain a person only when they have reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.