Champions Of Constitutional And Civil Rights Applaud Stop-and-Frisk Ruling While Denouncing Bloomberg

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Bloomberg and Kelly still reeling from Judge Scheindlin’s decision?

Council Members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams joined Communities United for Police Reform, the Center for Constitutional rights, civil rights leaders, and other New Yorkers to applaud the federal decision ruling the Bloomberg administration's stop-and-frisk policy as unconstitutional by racially profiling Black and Brown New Yorkers.

The group highlighted the ruling as demonstrating the need to override Mayor Bloomberg’s vetoes of the Community Safety Act.

“We applaud the federal courts for restoring a respect for law and justice in New York City,” said Loyda Colon of Communities United for Police Reform and the Justice Committee. “Judge Scheindlin’s decision and the failure of the Bloomberg administration to remedy its unconstitutional policies reveal the deep need for local laws to establish an enforceable ban on discriminatory profiling and independent oversight of the NYPD. It is clearer now more than ever that the City Council should override Mayor Bloomberg’s vetoes because he is out of touch with the reality of New Yorkers."

Shira Scheindlin's ruling was announced yesterday.

Council members spoke to the need to override the mayor’s vetoes to make the Community Safety Act bills law in order to provide permanent protections for New Yorkers from all forms of discriminatory profiling and to ensure there is long-term, effective accountability and oversight for the NYPD.

“Yesterday's historic ruling by Judge Scheindlin in Floyd v. City of New York is a moment for celebration, as the federal court’s findings validate our just cause,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams, a leading opponent of stop-and-frisk. “This ruling is based on the fact that NYPD has abused its stop-and-frisk program in conducting unconstitutional frisks and searches of young men of more color. In addition, by the Bloomberg administration's own COMPSTAT data, the policy has been extremely ineffective.  In strong agreement with our current legislation – Intro 1079 – Peter Zimroth, the Attorney appointed by Judge Scheindlin to be the Federal Monitor of the NYPD, said that his new position does not mitigate the need for an Inspector General. Mayor Bloomberg's threats to appeal this ruling, and his continued opposition to the Community Safety Act clearly demonstrate that his positions are without merit, and he has once again turned a deaf ear to New Yorkers’ demands to have our 4th and 14th Amendment rights respected.”

“Stop-and-frisk became the problem it is because the NYPD has gone too long without oversight or accountability,” said City Council Member Brad Lander. “The Community Safety Act will create the framework going forward to ensure that the NYPD focuses on the programs that keep us safe and avoids those that violate the law and damage much-needed relationships between the NYPD and the communities that it serves. We look forward to overriding the Mayor’s vetoes on August 22nd.”

Mayor Bloomberg has increasingly shown he is out of the mainstream and out-of-touch by refusing to acknowledge racial profiling in New York City or elsewhere. In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict, people throughout the nation have engaged in a substantive dialogue about racial profiling. Many people of color in New York City and around the United States – including President Obama – have given eloquent testimony of the harms and dangers of racial and bias-based profiling.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg has refused to discuss it and fought against a ban on discriminatory profiling in New York City by making destructive and deceptive statements, fearmongering, and threatening to use his wealth.

Yesterday, a federal court ruled his stop-and-frisk policy violates New Yorkers’ constitutional rights by racially profiling and appointed an outside monitor to remedy the problem. But Mayor Bloomberg has indicated his intention to appeal the ruling and still refuses to admit his administration’s implementation of the policy is a form of racial profiling.

Last month, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the two Community Safety Act bills to both ban discriminatory police profiling and establish independent oversight of the NYPD that were passed by a veto-proof majority of the City Council last month.

The legislation to ban discriminatory profiling – Intro. 1080 – builds upon the existing racial profiling law – strengthening it with clear enforcement mechanisms – and expanding its protections to LGBTQ and immigrant New Yorkers for the first time, along with other protected classes.

Despite misleading statements and mistruths being used by opponents to incite fear in the public, the bill does not stop police officers from identifying or pursuing a suspect by race, age, gender, or any other descriptive category. It uses the same exact “determinative factor” standard as the current racial profiling law – signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 – that does not presently prevent officers from identifying a suspect based on race.

Opponents continue to find new misinformation to spread about the legislation to ban discriminatory police profiling, lacking any consistent or coherent argument. Despite their continued use of several of these myths, the legislation:

WILL NOT CREATE FLOOD OF LAWSUITS: It does not allow individuals to sue for money (only for policy change), removing any monetary incentive to file a lawsuit. It will cost significant money and time to file a suit, require a high legal threshold determined by a screening panel that can dismiss lawsuits, and attorneys who file frivolous suits would be subject to sanctions.

WILL NOT RESTRICT LEGAL NYPD TACTICS: Since a lawsuit cannot be brought on the basis of statistics alone, claims that the legislation will allow lawsuits against effective crime-fighting strategies, like Operation Crew Cut or the use of cameras, just because they statistically appear to target people of a certain race, age, or other protected category are simply not true.

WILL NOT THREATEN LIVELIHOOD OF OFFICERS: Disparate impact claims cannot be brought against individual officers. Claims against individual officers would be required to demonstrate that and officer intentionally discriminated against someone, which is already the threshold under existing law.

WILL NOT COST THE CITY: Discriminatory policing is what costs the city millions of dollars a year. The costs of defending unlawful discrimination by the NYPD are already borne by tax payers to the tune of $745 million in settlements and legal fees in 2012 alone. This bill will force the NYPD to abandon ineffective, wasteful, and harmful discriminatory practices that have already cost the city far too much.

The legislation to establish independent oversight of the NYPD – Intro. 1079 – would provide essential review of policing policies and practices, bringing the NYPD into conformity with every other city agency, police departments in other U.S. cities, and other law enforcement agencies like the FBI and CIA. Oversight would include review of NYPD policies, programs and practices, and issuing recommendations, but would not include the authority to make operational decisions or implement changes.

Opponents of the bills, including law enforcement unions and Mayor Bloomberg, have launched attacks against the legislation and the City Council veto-proof majority that support it.

They have consistently made outrageous and irresponsible claims bout the bills to both the public and to rank-and-file officers, disregarding facts and the truth.

Despite opponents of the bills spreading several myths about the legal and practical effects of the legislation in an attempt to incite fear in New Yorkers, New Yorkers overwhelmingly reject the notion (86% - 9%) that they will hurt public safety according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll on the issue.


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