Stop-and-Frisk Ruled Unconstitutional; Monitor Assigned to Oversee Major NYPD Reforms


CONTACT: Jazmin Chavez, Coordinator of Communications and Digital Strategy, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, 212-739-7581

In a win for civil rights, a federal judge ruled that the stop-and-frisk policy of the New York Police Department is unconstitutional and that a federal monitor will be assigned to oversee broad reforms.

The judge in the case, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers had systematically stopped innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. The judge found that the police “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data.”

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, challenges 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…”

“Today, the court has confirmed the reality experienced by many New Yorkers: the NYPD has engaged in a pattern and practice of illegally stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young blacks and Latinos because of their race. By appointing a monitor to ensure the NYPD complies with the Constitution and inviting important stakeholders to the table, the court has taken an important step in creating a better and safer New York City” said Roberto Concepcion, Associate Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

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.

"Today Judge Schindlin took a major step to stop unconstitutional police practices that have for too long targeted black and Latino residents of our neighborhoods. Many aspects of the court order are laudable, but what is particularly promising is the joint collaborative engagement the court ordered for all stakeholders -- community members, business leaders, police, religious leaders, activists and advocates -- to join our clients in Ligon and Floyd to attempt to work out real solutions to the complex issues of policing without racial profiling. We welcome that process because we know the importance of balancing public safety with community policing that respects all of our stakeholders." Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

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.

Floyd brings full circle the movement that began in 1997, when thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets chanting “it’s a wallet, not a gun” – a reference to Diallo’s fatal attempt to show police his ID and an encapsulation of all that is wrong about the racially biased practices of the NYPD.

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