Appeals Court Block of Stop and Frisk Changes Sends Wrong message to NYPD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1, 2013

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

An appeals court’s hold on implementing reforms to the New York City Police Department’s controversial stop and frisk practices sends a dangerous message that the Department can continue its practice of targeting Black and Latino youth for stops, according to LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

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.

The Ligon lawsuit filed by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, The Bronx Defenders, NYCLU and Shearman & Sterling, LLP in March 2012, challenged Operation Clean Halls, a part of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that permits police officers to patrol thousands of private apartment buildings across New York City. LatinoJustice charged that “NYPD has directed its police officers to target young black and Hispanic men…”

The appeals court decision to put reforms on hold also subjects thousands of these residents to continued stop and frisk practices. “For years, Black and Latino youth have lived in constant fear of being arbitrarily stopped by the NYPD, be it outside their own building or down the block,” said Roberto Concepcion, Jr., Associate Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “This decision could give the perception that the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices are lawful and can continue unabated. This decision will only leave young New Yorkers of color continuing to feel vulnerable and marginalized in their own communities.”

After lengthy court proceedings over the past several years, Federal District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin in August issued a decision finding that the NYPD had systematically stopped thousands of Black and Latino males without lawful basis. 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 NYPD, 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 independent 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.

On Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a stay putting an immediate hold on the changes, and removed Judge Scheindlin from the case.

“LatinoJustice has every confidence that when the appellate court reviews the full record by Judge Scheindlin it will agree that Latinos and Blacks have been subjected to unconstitutional policing by the NYPD,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Both class-action suits were brought on behalf of thousands of New Yorkers who are illegally stopped each year by police officers as part of this longstanding, controversial practice. They are at the at the center of what has become a nationwide movement to end racially discriminatory policing and the siege of black and brown neighborhoods by the police departments.

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