Judge's Ruling Boosts Foes of Mayor Bloomberg's Apartheid Policing

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"When you compare it to the census data, there really is no connection to who they are stopping. It is really about race," said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

[Police Watch]

Federal Judge Okays Class Action

On Wednesday May 16, a federal judge approved a class action suit for those claiming that they were illegally stopped, questioned and frisked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York Police Department (NYPD) under Commissioner Ray Kelly.

African American and Latino residents have for years contended that the stop-and-frisk policing, whereby officers target young males of color for on-the-spot searches without probable cause amounts to Apartheid policing.

The lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights alleges that the NYPD's 'Stop-And-Frisk' practices are unconstitutional, racial discriminatory and has violated the rights of more than 600,000 people who were stopped-and-frisked in 2011 alone.

Anyone subjected to an illegal stop-and-frisk in the past seven years can join the lawsuit.

Judge Shira Scheindling called the city's attitude towards the stops "deeply troubling." Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the practice is unconstitutional and targets Blacks and Latinos.

"There is a huge disparity in who is being stopped. But that when you compare that to the crime data, when you compare it to the census data, there really is no connection to who they are stopping. It is really about race," said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The latest "stop-and-frisk" numbers from the NYPD show more than 203,000 street stops were made between January and March of this year alone.

Criticism of the policy by those eyeing a mayoral run is mounting too, from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a close Bloomberg ally, to Bill Thompson who ran a close race against Bloomberg, to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. They all have called for changes in the practice.

"It's disappointing that so much resources have to be spent on what everybody understands is a policy that not only is ineffective, but is racial and prejudicial by its nature. And the two people that don't understand that is the mayor and the commissioner," Council Member Jumaane Williams, who represents Brooklyn's District 45, told NewYork1 News. 

"There is a legitimate question to be had here when it comes to how much is too much when it comes to stop-and-frisk. But it is a program that has to continue to get the guns from the gangbangers," Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., also told NewYork1.

A major anti stop-and-frisk protest is being planned for Father's Day. Amongst those said to be calling for the event is Reverend Al Sharpton.


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