Court Finally Kills Racist NYC Stop-and-Frisk Program
After an appeals panel blocked a Federal District Court ruling that the New York Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk program was unconstitutional, the same appeals panel rejected a motion by lawyers to overturn the ruling. According to the New York Times, this “all but ends the Bloomberg Administration’s ability to legally challenge the ruling,” and essentially puts an end to the controversial police program.
The original ruling came down from Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Federal District Court in Manhattan in August. Scheindlin found that parts of the program violated Fourth Amendment rights, which prevent police from unreasonable search and seizure, because many of the people stopped under the program were not suspected of any crime. She also noted that the program “intentionally discriminated against minorities.”
Last month, however, an appeals panel put a temporary block on the judge’s orders to stop the practice. The panel argued that the judge had been trying to steer the Stop-and-Frisk case to her courtroom and had given media interviews while the case was pending and said that the case did not have “the appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation.”
Last week, the panel announced that after investigation, there was no misconduct or ethical violation on Scheindlin’s part. The panel rejected the city’s attempt to vacate the ruling but decided to continue the stay on the judge’s orders to allow the Bloomberg administration to appeal it.
Since the Bloomberg administration was rebuffed by the panel, this essentially puts an end to Stop-and-Frisk as we know it. There is not nearly enough time to overturn the ruling if an appeal was approved because Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio takes office in just over a month. De Blasio has promised to withdraw the appeal and end the policy for good.
Under the policy, the NYPD stopped more than half a million New Yorkers per year and, each year, nearly 9 of 10 were completely innocent. The program, at its heart, is meant to get guns off the streets but firearms were found in just 0.2 percent of the stops. The program’s critics often derided the policy as outright racist since 90 percent of people stopped each year were black or Latino in a city where half the population is white.
(Image courtesy of Michael Fleshman)