PHOTO: THE GUARDIAN
A federal judge has ruled the New York City Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy violates the United States Constitution. The controversial practice violates the Fourth Amendment that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, said United States District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in a 195-page decision, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Scheindlin found ... "the city adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data. This has resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause."
The judge added that evidence showed that minorities are "indeed treated differently than whites."
Between 2004 and 2012, the police made approximately 4.4 million stops under the program, which Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have credited with helping drive down crime. More than 80% of those stopped were either black or Hispanic and about 90% of those weren't charged with a crime.
The widespread profiling of Black and Latino youth and men have become a cornerstone of the Bloomberg Administration, adds Reuters.
Police personnel felt or were aware of pressure to increase the number of stops when Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002 and brought in Raymond Kelly to be NYPD Commissioner, the judge wrote. ...
A 2012 New York Civil Liberties Union report showed a sharp, steady increase in police stops over the course of Bloomberg's three terms in office - to 685,724 in 2011 from 160,851 stops in 2003, with about half of the 2011 stops resulting in physical searches.
The NYPD's aggressive racial profiling has also targeted Black and Latino LGBT youth, reports the Huffington Post.
[Critics say] ... [t]ransgender people, for example, may be assumed to be presenting fake identification to officers because their gender identities and new names don't match their official documents. For the gender-nonconforming, that could mean getting a citation for disorderly conduct "because you didn't act the way you should act, according to your gender," or as police are expecting a man or woman to act in that situation.
There are few reliable statistics about how many LGBT people are stopped by police in New York City. But Andrea Ritchie, coordinator of Streetwise and Safe, said that at least a quarter of gay youth become homeless at some point in their lives, often due to family stresses. This puts many of them on the street, which raises the likelihood of unwanted police encounters. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, about 20 percent of all homeless youth in the U.S. are LGBT, even though LGBTs make up less than 10 percent of all young people.
Ritchie also cited a recent study in the New York Law School Law Review that found gay youth were twice as likely as straight people to report "negative sexual contact" with the city police over a six-month period. But for various reasons, Ritchie said, gay people on the whole are reluctant to file formal complaints.
Judge Scheindlin's "ruling came after a federal class action lawsuit was brought against the NYPD because of the practice, leading to a nine-week trial that ended on May 20," adds COLORLINES. The lawsuit was launched by Black and Latino plaintiffs who believed they were the victims of racial discrimination.