Another Victory: Federal Judge Sends NYPD's Racist, Illegal "Stop and Frisk" Policy To Court

 Today, Manhattan Judge Shira Scheindlin gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit targeting the NYPD's racially biased, as well as illegal, "Stop and Frisk" procedures. 

According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, who originally handled the 2008 case Floyd v. City of New York,  Scheindlin determined that the plaintiff's claims raise serious questions “as to whether the NYPD’s stop and frisk policies have had a disparate impact in the form of a widespread pattern of race-based stops," not invalidated by the NYPD's claims to corrective action. 

The ruling is a victory for New York City youths of colortargeted by the NYPD's stop and frisks.  Legal only to find and confiscate guns, stop and frisks in New York have become a loophole through which officers shake down young, poor minorities for small amounts of marijuana.  But the NYPD's tampering with the law goes even further: Many police demand their victims empty their pockets, only to unfairly arrest them for small amounts of pot "in public view," in which case a tiny bag of weed is no longer decriminalized in New York. Having a criminal record then prevents arrestees from advancing, blocking their access to federal housing and school loans, not to mention jobs.

The policy does not pop up on a case-by-case basis, but is evidence of large-scale corruption. Small amounts of weed for personal use are decriminalized in New York, but these loophole tactics have made New York City the "Marijuana Arrest Capitol of the World."  And according to the Drug Policy Alliance, Blacks and Latinos make up 86% of marijuana arrests (despite whites' use at a higher rate), while youths contribute to 70 percent of arrests.  The numbers are indeed staggering: New York City marijuana possession contributes to a whopping 15% of all arrests city-wide. 

According to CCR, the judge suspected these arrests have become a method to fill quotas. 

From CCR:

"the Judge described audio recordings of NYPD precinct roll-calls presented by plaintiffs as 'smoking gun' evidence that creates 'a triable issue of fact as to whether NYPD supervisors have a custom or practice of imposing quotas on officer activity, and whether such quotas can be said to be the ‘moving force’ behind widespread suspicionless stops.'"

Suspicion of weaponry is also a prerequisite to stop-and-frisks, and the NYPD's tendency to use the procedure to generate mass arrests is a gross violation of the law.  Filling quotas is no excuse to impede community relations with cops, nor is it a reason to target (and destroy the future of) minority youths. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at August 31, 2011, 9:23am

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