Monday, August 12, 2013
Breaking: Federal judge rules NYC stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional—but it took 14 years (shame)
by Larry Geller
A New York judge ruled Monday that stop-and-frisk searches carried out by city police are unconstitutional – and ordered that a federal monitor be brought in to oversee their reform.
In a major victory for civil rights activists who have long contended that stop-and-frisk amounts to racial profiling, US district court judge Shira Scheindlin said the stops violated individuals' right to privacy and equal treatment under the law. In addition, the city's highest officials had "turned a blind eye" to evidence that officers carried out the searches in a "racially discriminatory manner", she added.
[The Guardian (UK), New York's stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional, judge rules, 8/12/2013]
The ruling today is a great victory for advocates and the New York branch of the ACLU. But justice has been unacceptably slow:
The case – Floyd v City of New York – was the result of 14 years of litigation against the stop and frisk policy.
14 years! Anyone who thinks the North has less racial discrimination than the South might check into this—along with the NYPD spying on mosques up an down the Atlantic coast—in states where it has no jurisdiction.
Yes, the NYPD is deeply into racial profiling. Reading a history of New York, it seems one of their earliest objectives was the return of escaped slaves to their owners in the South, so perhaps we should not be surprised.
The court victory also underlined the role of President Obama’s potential nominee for head of the Department of Homeland Security, NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who headed the stop-and-frisk program:
Cops targeted blacks and Latinos as part of their “stop-and-frisk” policy to “instill fear in them,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly admitted in a private meeting with lawmakers, a state Senator testified Monday.
State Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) testified in Manhattan Federal Court he “was shocked” when Kelly made the surprise statement during a 2010 meeting in then-Gov. David Paterson’s Manhattan office.
[New York Daily News, NYPD Commish Ray Kelly said 'stop and frisk' intended to 'instill fear' in blacks and Latinos: State Sen. Eric Adams, 4/1/2013]
When Ray Kelly, the man Barack Obama is currently considering to lead homeland security, was the New York City police commissioner, he allegedly had a policy of terrorising black and Latino neighbourhoods.
A hearing into the city's stop-and-frisk policies in spring heard how Kelly told state senator Eric Adams that "he targeted and focused on [black and Latino youth] because he wanted to instill fear in them every time they left their homes that they could be targeted by the police". The hearing also heard a secret recording of South Bronx deputy inspector Christopher McCormack telling a subordinate to stop "the right people at the right time, the right location", and focus stop-and-frisks on "male blacks" between 14 and 21.
[The Guardian (UK), America cares for you – until you start asking questions, 8/12/2013]
That this case took so long to be resolved—more than five million stop-and-frisks have likely taken place in the interim—calls into question whether the US has a commitment to civil rights at all.
The verdict comes at a time when several states are moving to restrict voting rights of minority citizens, bringing back a “Jim Crow” era that was supposedly a closed chapter in our country’s history.
Where was the Department of Justice for 14 years and five million violations of civil rights?
How dare President Obama even consider the perpetrator for federal office?