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NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit Ruled a Class Action Suit

A Federal judge granted class action status to a lawsuit alleging the NYPD's controversial program amounts to racial profiling.

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An analysis of NYPD stop-and-risk figures released by the New York Civil Liberties Union last week found that in six out of the 10 precincts with the lowest numbers of black and Latino people in the city, black and Latino citizens represented over 70% of those stopped.

The stops were distributed unevenly throughout the city's precincts, with the highest total – 31,100 – reported in the impoverished, predominantly black neighborhood of East New York and the fewest – 2,023 – reported in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood of Greenpoint. Black and Latino New Yorkers accounted for more than half of the stops in 70 out of 76 of the city's precincts, while in 33 precincts they accounted for more than 90%. In five precincts that figure climbed to 98%.

According to NYCLU's analysis of the department's data, the substantial increase in stop-and-frisks 600% over the last decade has not corresponded to the substantial increase in guns seized. The NYCLU noted that 524,873 more stop-and-frisks were reported in 2011 than 2003, but a mere 176 more guns were seized last year, amounting to an increased recovery rate of 0.0003% (three one hundredths of one percent). In fact, a suspicion of "violent crime" was listed in only 10.5% of last year's stops.

Judge Scheindlin has pointed to a sworn affidavit from state senator Eric Adams, formerly an NYPD officer of 22 years, who alleges that Kelly once said stop-and-frisks are intended to serve as a psychological tool applied specifically to black and Latino communities. Adams told the Guardian that the commissioner made the comment during a 2010 meeting challenging the department's use of a stop-and-frisk database.

According to Adams, Kelly said: "He wanted to instil the fear in black and Hispanic youths that every time they leave their homes they will feel that they could be stopped and searched by the police."

The New York City police department and the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not respond to requests for comment on this article.

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