The City of New York will be allowed to legally abandon the racially discriminatory “stop-and-frisk” searches used by New York police for more than a decade.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted the city’s request to withdraw its appeal in Floyd v New York, a 2008 case challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program as implemented under then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The federal judge in the case ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional in August 2013, finding the NYPD liable for stopping innocent citizens — mainly young black and brown people — in the streets essentially because of their race. Bloomberg’s administration appealed the ruling, but new mayor Bill De Blasio and his staff agreed to drop the case in January while seeking reforms for NYPD behavior.
New York’s police unions pushed back, trying to continue the appeal, but the Second Circuit today denied their request and lifted a hold on stop-and-frisk program reforms put in place in October 2013.
“Today’s ruling confirms the unions cannot claim they are harmed by court orders simply requiring them to comply with the Constitution,” said Baher Azmy, legal director for one of the plaintiffs in the case, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. “Now, after the unions’ unnecessary obstructionism, all New Yorkers can work together to end racially discriminatory policing and bring meaningful reform and accountability to the NYPD.”
Of the more than 5 million people stopped by the NYPD from 2002 to mid-2014, nearly ninety percent were found by the department itself to be completely innocent. Last year, 85 percent of those stopped were black or Latino.
Although today’s ruling was encouraging, De Blasio’s administration is still defending the police surveillance of Muslim communities implemented by his predecessor. The new mayor still has a lot of work to do.
Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP