The Year of NYPD Accountability?2013 is starting to look like it could be the year of NYPD accountability after a key ruling this month challenged the legality of stop-and-frisk.
A Federal District Judge recently ruled that the NYPD was illegally stopping innocent people in public areas outside thousands of private apartment buildings in the Bronx - violating their Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure - and ordered the NYPD to immediately cease its practice of unlawful trespass stops.
These buildings are enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP), whereby police routinely patrol buildings and arrest trespassers. The simple act of leaving a building could arise suspicion of trespassing, and as Judge Scheindlin wrote in her decision, "attempts at explanation are met with hostility; especially if the person is a young black man, he is frisked, which often involves an invasive search of his pockets; in some cases the officers then detain the person in a police van."
This is the first victory in 2013 for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), a major grassroots organizing campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York. CPR members New York Civil Liberties Union, Bronx Defenders and Latino Justice PRLDEF all litigated this case and were integral in its successful outcome. CPR brings together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change, and this victory showcases the power grassroots activists can have to change public policy.
Judge Scheindlin will be presiding over two other major stop-and-frisk lawsuits against the NYPD in the coming months, which will also be litigated by CPR members.
North Star Fund is CPR's fiscal sponsor and proud to do our part to support this vital campaign to end discriminatory and abusive policing. To learn more about the upcoming lawsuits, as well as other activities CPR and it members are organizing, visit their website.