Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. Apartheid-style policing wins for now
The NAACP and New York elected officials this evening denounced a decision by an appeals court that would allow the NYPD to continue with its Stop-and-Frisk regime.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today suspended remedies that had been imposed on the NYPD to eliminate Stop-and-Frisk after the Bloomberg Administration lost the Floyd v New York case this past summer.
Under the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk regime, millions of mostly African American and Latino males –they comprise over 90% of people stopped– have been wrongfully stopped by the police. These arbitrary stops have yielded weapons or contrabands in only one-of-ten cases.
After the Floyd v New York case, U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, in August, ruled that the arbitrary NYPD stops targeting Blacks and Latinos were unconstitutional. She assigned a federal monitor to help the police department change its policy and training program. Judge Scheindlin had ruled that Stop-and-Frisk violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.
New York City filed an appeal. Separately, the City filed a motion asking the Second Appellate department to suspend the remedies imposed by Judge Scheindlin, which included a monitor of the NYPD, until the appeal of the Floyd case has been decided. Today, the Second department sided with the City, staying Scheindlin’s decision in the Floyd case and the remedies.
In an unusual development, without the City asking, the appellate panel also removed the case from Judge Scheindlin and assigned it to another judge, citing press interviews she had granted, and claiming she did not appear impartial.
Scheindlin released a statement that in part reads: “With respect to press interviews: all of the interviews identified by the Second Circuit were conducted under the express condition that I would not comment on the Floyd case. And I did not. Some of the reporters used quotes from written opinions in Floyd that gave the appearance that I had commented on the case. However, a careful reading of each interview will reveal that no such comments were made.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights whose attorneys were the driving force behind Floyd v New York in a statement said: “We are dismayed that the Court of Appeals saw fit to delay the long-overdue process to remedy the NYPD’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices, and we are shocked that they cast aspersions on the professional conduct of one of the most respected members of the federal judiciary and reassigned the case. The City carried out a whisper campaign against Judge Scheindlin but never once raised any legal claims of bias, even in its papers to the Court of Appeals. That, unprompted, they should reassign the case from a judge deeply steeped in the issues for the last 14 years, who gave the City every opportunity to defend itself in the course of this litigation, is troubling and unprecedented.”
“’Stop-and-frisk’ policing is nothing less than the largest racial profiling program in the country, and Judge Scheindlin was right to rule it unconstitutional,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO. “No matter the outcome of this appeal, the people of New York City have already voted to reform the program despite the best efforts of Mayor Bloomberg. Legalized racial profiling has been discredited and will ultimately be relegated to the dustbin of history.”
NAACP criminal justice director, Dr. Niaz Kasravi pointed out that Judge Scheindlin’s decision responded to vast amounts of evidence that the NYPD profiled based on race, ethnicity, LGBT-status, and faith. Added New York NAACP and New York City NAACP President, Hazel Dukes, “We will continue to demand protections for our civil and human rights.”
“The decision to stay the district court’s opinion declaring the police department’s stop and frisk program unconstitutional is an unfortunate departure from the long journey toward justice,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8). “The NYPD has sanctioned racial profiling during this administration in ways that violate the Fourth Amendment. Notwithstanding this judicial hiccup, communities victimized by the out of control stop and frisk program can at least take comfort that the apologists for this police tactic have to pack up by December 31.”
Public Advocate and leading candidate for New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio said he was “extremely disappointed” in the court’s decision. “We shouldn’t have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution,” he said. “We have to end the overuse of stop and frisk–and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect.”
De Blasio has opened up a 40-points lead over Republican contender Joe Lhota in the November 5 vote. The ruling is likely to help drive up voter turn out.
“No matter how long this fight lasts, it is a fight worth winning, and a fight that we will win,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn). “American history is replete with instances where well-meaning individuals ended up on the wrong side of a civil rights issue.” (see also related Op-Ed).
The human rights and activist group, Communities United for Police Reform, released a statement saying any delays in reforming the “quota-driven stop-and-frisk policy” will be to the “detriment of communities and New Yorkers throughout our city who have routinely had their rights violated and been made to fear both crime and the police.”
“New Yorkers just will not stand for racial profiling and unconstitutional search and seizures,” said New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. “I implore the outgoing administration to drop the fight for this wildly unpopular policy and aim their efforts at needed reconciliation and bridge building between police officers and the communities they serve.”
After the City lost the Floyd case, the New York City Council overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act, that: bans racial and religious profiling; establishes an NYPD Inspector General Office; and, provides greater protection against unlawful search and seizure.