NYPD Forced to Defend Stop-and-Frisks in Federal Court

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Last week a federal lawsuit against stop-and-frisk took major steps forward, and a decision by Judge Shira Scheindlin about whether the suit can proceed as a class action is soon expected.

The suit, originally filed in 2008, accuses the NYPD, Ray Kelly, Mayor Bloomberg, the city, and several individual officers of using the practice of stop-and-frisks to maintain an unconstitutional racial profiling system.

Judge Scheindlin should be applauded for refusing to cave to pressure from city and NYPD lawyers to shut down the suit, and for ruling that that testimony of Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University professor of criminology, can be used in the case.  Fagan, after studying five years of NYPD stops, found the NYPD “made 150,000 unconstitutional or legally unjustified stops” between 2004 and 2009.

Despite the fact that possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized in 1977, the NYPD continues to use the practice of stop-and-frisk to illegally search and arrest tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year.

Over the past decade, the NYPD has arrested 400,000 people for low-level marijuana possession, most of whom are Black and Latino despite whites using at higher rates. Last year, a record 684,330 New Yorkers were stopped and frisked.  Almost all of those stopped were Black or Latino (87%), a figure that matches prior years

Milk Not Jails is continues to fight against racist criminal justice and policing practices which have torn communities apart and wasted scarce economic resources.  Join Milk Not Jails and other organizations at Foley Square in Manhattan this Sunday at 2pm for a demonstration against stop-and-frisk and illegal marijuana arrests.  Click here for more information about the event.

Update 5/16: Judge Scheindlin grants case class-action status, opens door for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers unlawfully stopped and frisked.

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