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latinovationsBy Latinovations

A federal judge ruled the NY ‘stop and frisk’ practice unconstitutional Monday after finding the NYPD violated the civil rights of more than 4.4 million New Yorkers in between 2004 and 2012 – 80% being black or Latino.

“The city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner,” wrote Judge Shira Schiendlin in a written statement. “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.”

Under the controversial tactic, thousands of Latinos have been stopped and questioned by police. According to the Judge’s statement, the NYPD made at least 200,000 stops from 2004 to June 2012 without reasonable suspicion. However, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused the judge of ignoring “the real-world realities of crime” and stated the city would appeal the decision.

Bloomberg has defended the practice numerous times over the years and recently said that blacks and Latinos are not stopped enough. After the ruling, he said the judge’s decision could result in a return to the days of crime and mayhem when murders hit an all-time high of 2,245 in 1990 compared to the all-time low of 418 in 2012. But Judge Schiendlin wrote that she was not ruling on the effectiveness of ‘stop and frisk’ but instead on its constitutionality and many citizens agree.

“Today’s court ruling confirmed the reality of many New Yorkers mostly black and Latinos,” said Roberto Concepción, Associate Counsel with civil rights organization LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “The court has invited stakeholders to the table, including members of the community, police, religious leaders, activists — all done in the name of making sure the reforms that are required of the NYPD actually are effective.” 

This article was first published in Latinovations.

[Photo by Michael Fleshman]

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