Stop-and-frisk goes on trial

The landmark federal class-action will challenge the NYPD for targeting young black and Latino men

Topics: NYPD, Racism, stop-and-frisk, Police, center for constitutional rights,

Stop-and-frisk goes on trial (Credit: Shutterstock)

The landmark federal trial, Floyd vs. City of New York, which challenges the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk practices used by the NYPD. Lawyers with the Center for Constitutional Rights who are bringing the class-action suit believe it will be the “trial of the century,” probing whether the police have been unlawfully stopping black and Latino young men.

As the New York Times noted, the class-action “claims to represent ‘hundreds of thousands if not millions of people’ who experienced ‘suspicionless and race-based stops’ by the city’s police officers.” The NYCLU noted last week that the NYPD under Mayor Bloomberg have carried out 5 million stop and searches, over 86 percent of which on black or Latino individuals.

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The plaintiffs’ lawyers will be seeking to prove that NYPD officers, under pressure to fulfill quotas, are tacitly but systematically encouraged to target young, minority race males. The named plaintiff, David Floyd, a medical student in the Bronx, was stopped twice by police — once just walking along the sidewalk, once helping a neighbor into their apartment.

Both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have stood by stop-and-frisk practices while criticism has mounted in recent years. In a recent poll, 55 to 39 percent of voters said they disapprove of stop-and-frisk and  44 to 22 percent that they are less likely rather than more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who supports continuing the tactic.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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