(Brooklyn, NY) “Today, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin concluded that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s Stop-and-Frisk program has violated the Fourth and 14th Amendment constitutional rights of potentially millions of Blacks and Latinos in New York City.
Judge Scheindlin’s decision found that NYPD officers between 2004 and 2012 had systematically stopped innocent Blacks and Latinos, primarily youths, in the street with no objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Those young men were then frisked for weapons or their pockets were searched for contraband.
As I said in my July 17 letter to Senator Schumer, asking him to withdraw his support for Commissioner Kelly for the position of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (http://bit.ly/164D6tW), ‘For the past decade, communities of color in New York City have been ravaged by their police department; by a police department that treats certain people as a permanent class of criminals. Being a young Black or Latino male does not make one a criminal … [h]owever, for more than a decade, that is how these communities have been treated by the New York City Police Department.’
I am heartened that Judge Scheindlin has put a stop to the largest program and practice of racial profiling in the nation. I am also heartened by the Judge’s acknowledgement that there must be concrete steps to keep this or similar practices from recurring which include appointing a federal monitor over the NYPD, requiring police officers in at least five precincts to wear ‘body cameras’ to record NYPD street encounters, and holding community-stakeholder meetings to determine how to reform Stop-and-Frisk.
The first step in remediating a great wrong is finding a path to reconciliation through acknowledgment that one has done a wrong. In this case, the NYPD and Bloomberg Administration have spent a decade denying Stop-and-Frisk’s unconstitutional reliance upon racial profiling and the disproportionate use of force against Black and Latino youth, despite the fact that stops of White New Yorkers are much more like to result in finding contraband or weapons.
I hope that this Mayor and Police Commissioner will admit the devastating results of their wrongful policies so that our unjustly criminalized youth can begin the long process of healing. The next step that they must take is to admit the NYPD needs an independent Inspector General who would protect our police from being made to carry out discriminatory policies like Stop-and-Frisk, and would ensure New York’s Finest are subject to the same oversight, accountability and transparency to which all other City, State and Federal agencies are subject.
About Senator Kevin Parker
Senator Kevin S. Parker is intimately familiar with the needs of his ethnically diverse Brooklyn community that consists of 318,000 constituents in Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and Park Slope. He is the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee as well as the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Assistant Democratic Leader for Intergovernmental Affairs, and Chair of the Democratic Task Force on New Americans.