City Pledges to Drop Appeal of Stop and Frisk Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2014

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

While Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that the city would take the legal steps necessary to drop its appeal of the various Stop and Frisk cases, there still remains work to be done to correct unconstitutional practices in the police department and restore confidence among Latino and Black citizens, according to LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

The city announced on Thursday that it agreed with plaintiffs in the litigation and to drop its appeal within 45 days to allow for more deliberation. Left intact will be the appointment of a monitor and a plan to increase dialogue about community policing among community advocates, the police department and citizens.

“This is a good first step that hopefully will pave the way to creating confidence in our community that the police will focus on stopping crime and stop harassing innocent Latino and Black youth,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We agree with the mayor that dropping this appeal is the first step in increasing the quality of our police force. We look forward to working with the city in putting in place new guidelines and procedures to ensure the safety and respect of our community.” After lengthy legal proceedings, Federal Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin found in August that the NYPD had systematically stopped thousands of Black and Latino males without lawful basis.

The city, under the previous mayor, had appealed the ruling. As part of his campaign for mayor, De Blasio had promised to reform the police department and drop the appeal.

Judge Scheindlin ruled that the Police Department not only had violated the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures, but had also violated the 14th Amendment by resorting to a “policy of indirect racial profiling” as the number of police stops soared in minority communities over the last decade.

The police, Judge Scheindlin found, were routinely stopping “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” She then ordered the installation of an outside lawyer to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution and directed some officers to wear cameras in a pilot program to record their street interactions, and holding community meetings to solicit public comments on reforming the department’s tactics.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit put a hold on the changes and removed Judge Scheindlin from the case. The class-action suit, Floyd v. City of New York, was brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are illegally stopped each year by police officers as part of this longstanding, controversial practice. LatinoJustice has a parallel case, Ligon v. City of New York, where many claims and evidence overlap with Floyd.

The Ligon lawsuit filed by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, The Bronx Defenders, NYCLU and civil rights attorney Chris Fabricant, challenged Operation Clean Halls, a part of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that allows police officers to patrol thousands of private apartment buildings across New York City. LatinoJustice charged that “NYPD has directed officers to target young black and Hispanic men…” The class-action suit was brought on behalf of thousands of New Yorkers who are illegally stopped each year by police officers as part of this longstanding, controversial practice.

The Floyd trial is at the center of what has become a citywide movement to end racially discriminatory policing and the siege of black and brown neighborhoods by the NYPD.

That movement began in response to the horrific 1997 shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man standing in the doorway of his own apartment who was mowed down in a hail of 41 NYPD bullets. Part of that response was CCR’s landmark case Daniels v. City of New York, filed in 1999 and settled in 2003. Daniels led to the disbanding of the infamous NYPD Street Crimes Unit.

It also required the city to provide quarterly stop-and-frisk data to CCR, which led to the development of the Floyd case when it became clear the City was not abiding by the settlement and that the number of unconstitutional stops had grown exponentially.

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