On Monday, August 12, 2013, a federal judge ruled that the infamous Stop and Frisk policy of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. While this is a victory in that the ruling acknowledges the humanity and constitutional rights of minorities, I wish these tactics were discontinued altogether. Ultimately, it is racial profiling repackaged.
Judge Shira Scheindlin’s almost 200-page decision spoke to how the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause along with the 4th Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures by the government were disregarded. She also ordered several remedial strategies that I hope will seriously address the racial profiling, indignities, humiliation, and assaults that Blacks and Hispanics suffer with Stop and Frisk.
This lawsuit was filed by several Black plaintiffs against the City of New York to shine a spotlight on the injustices of Stop and Frisk. This legal challenge is a part of an ongoing legacy to fight forms of racial discrimination and de facto Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander’s book: “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, connects the dots between criminalizing minorities, the growth of Black and Brown people in prison systems, and the stripping away of citizenship rights of Black and Brown people.
These Stop and Frisk tactics reinforce a Jim Crow environment and mentality such that Black and Brown people, especially men, second guess if they should go out at night; question how they should dress; rethink where they can go; or wonder if they will be stopped again. Furthermore, these Stop and Frisk tactics increase mistrust between the Black and Brown communities and the police. If Mayor Bloomberg has a genuine concern for these communities, this ruling has provided him and his administration an opportunity to view his policies through the eyes of the citizens he espouses to protect. However, judging by his reaction to the ruling, he is only interested in continuing this poor policy.
What are your thoughts on this latest ruling?
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