Stop-and-Frisk: NYC Public Advocate James, safety advocates and legal experts, Call For Action

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Public advocate Letitia James

[Stop And Frisk]

Community safety advocates and legal experts from the across the city and nation were joined Public Advocate Letitia James in calling for the implementation of the remedial processes arising from the court decision in Floyd v. The City of New York.

“The devastating impact of Stop and Frisk abuses has been painfully demonstrated and New Yorkers have voted for change,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Now, it’s time to act. I have consistently supported dropping Bloomberg Era legal challenges to reforms and I’m pleased to join advocates and leaders in working towards solutions that keep our communities safe while preserving the civil liberties of every single New Yorker.”

The remedial process ordered by the court would unite communities impacted by stop-and-frisk with law enforcement and others in developing solutions. Advocates and New Yorkers impacted by stop-and-frisk have pointed to the process – and a long-term independent court monitor to ensure compliance – as critical to the successful, lasting and meaningful reform of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices.

“Our communities have waited far too long for overdue reforms to discriminatory police practices – it’s been more than a decade of fighting for justice,” said Djibril Toure of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Communities United for Police Reform. “It’s critical, now more than ever, for those directly affected by the NYPD’s discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy to be involved in identifying effective remedies after having their rights violated. We need the remedial process to move forward now, unite our communities with law enforcement around positive solutions, and an independent federal monitor to ensure compliance, so we have meaningful, lasting reform.”

The process has been delayed by the stay to the federal court decision sought and received by the Bloomberg administration in its final months. The delay was granted while the previous administration continued its appeal of the decision, despite the fact that incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated his administration’s intentions to drop the legal challenge. Then-Manhattan Borough President and current Comptroller Scott Stringer characterized the Bloomberg administration legal challenge as a waste of taxpayer money.

“Discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices have lasting, negative impacts on young people in our communities – our organization sees it in the youth we work with everyday,” said Adilka Pimentel of Make the Road New York. “It is critical that the joint remedial process move forward to involve those most impacted in identifying long-term reforms and ensuring compliance together with law enforcement, other stakeholders and the monitor.”

The forum also focused on the Floyd federal court decision’s connection to other litigation against the city’s police practices – Davis v. The City of New York (Davis) and Ligon v. The City of New York (Ligon). Davis is a lawsuit filed by a group of residents of and visitors to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residences against NYCHA and the City. It challenges NYPD’s practices of unlawful stops, questions, frisks, searches, and arrests of NYCHA residents and their visitors for criminal trespass based on their race and/or ethnicity. Ligon is a class-action lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s stop, question, frisk, search, citation, and arrest practices in buildings enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP), an NYPD program that allows police officers to patrol thousands of private apartment buildings across the City.

The forum comes nearly a month after Mayor de Blasio, Public Advocate James and Comptroller Stringer – all supporters of reforming stop-and-frisk – entered their respective citywide offices. In addition to Public Advocate James, panelists included Cardozo Law Professor Ekow Yankah, Djibril Toure of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Adilka Pimentel of Make the Road New York, University of Omaha Professor Emeritus Sam Walker, and Iris Roley of the Cincinnati Black United Front.

“The Floersheimer Center is proud to host events important to furthering the study of constitutional law and democratic governance,” said Michelle Adams, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “For this reason, we welcomed the opportunity to present this Community Event on the Stop and Frisk Lawsuits and Lasting Reforms.  This community event has provided an invaluable opportunity for New Yorkers to come together at Cardozo Law School to discuss solutions to a critical issue in our community with broad implications for the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

This past August, a federal court ruled that the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional and amounted to racial profiling. From 2002 to 2011 during the Bloomberg administration, the use of stop-and-frisk increased by more than 600%. Nearly nine in ten of those stopped were neither arrested nor issued a summons, and nearly 90% of those stopped were Black or Latina/o. New Yorkers were stopped by the NYPD over half a million times in 2012 and over 5 million stops were made during the Bloomberg administration. While the final year of the Bloomberg administration saw a decreased number of reported stops (about 194,000), there is no clear indication that unconstitutional stops – those that fail to meet the Supreme Court’s legal threshold requiring reasonable suspicion – were ended.

Despite the court ruling, and the passage of the Community Safety Act and override of Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of it, the Bloomberg administration continued to forcefully fight against reforms. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly refused to acknowledge the problems with their stop-and-frisk policy. Despite their own data showing its exploding use had failed to make a notable impact on gun violence, they continued to argue it kept New Yorkers safe from gun violence.

The Bloomberg administration not only used taxpayer money to seek appeals in the court ruling, but also to file a lawsuit against the City Council over its enactment of a law that protects New Yorkers from discriminatory profiling by the NYPD despite incoming Mayor de Blasio’s support for it. The law prohibits the police from profiling New Yorkers based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status; and includes clear enforcement mechanisms for the prohibition.

On Election Day, voters rejected the Bloomberg administration on the issue by choosing new leadership that articulated a clear commitment and platform to reform stop-and-frisk and help end discriminatory policing.

The Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy sparked outrage throughout the city and nation for its profiling of primarily Black and Latina/o New Yorkers. Increasing opposition also focused on how the policy and discriminatory policing more broadly impacted the LGBTQ community, immigrants, residents of public housing, the Muslim community, homeless New Yorkers and others.



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