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Stop-and-frisk on trial
August 12, 2013 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Stop and Frisk violated the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, federal judge holds. The ruling comes after the two-month trial in Floyd v. City of New York and finds the tactics and policies of the NYPD in conducting stop-and-frisk systemically violates both the 4th and 14th Amendments of New Yorkers of color. Stopping short of striking down stop-and-frisk more broadly, already upheld numerous times by the Supreme Court, Judge Scheindlin ordered an independent monitor to oversee reforms to the practice.
posted by likeatoaster (69 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
sometimes i force myself to read this twitter page (the NYPD stops & frisks more than a thousand people each day. Here, a tweet for each of the 685,724 people stopped in 2011) until i just can't stand it anymore.
posted by nadawi at 8:09 AM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Good news. I hope this ruling is binding, is upheld on any appeal, and isn't subverted by the inevitable repositioning of the mayor and his law-and-order gang.

Like the building says, END STOP & FRISK HANDS OFF THE KIDS!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:14 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am smiling.
posted by bswinburn at 8:18 AM on August 12, 2013


Ah, and here is the actual decision: on the right sidebar.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:18 AM on August 12, 2013


So...The judge ruled that the targeting methods used in the practice of stop-and-frisk were racially motivated, thus making this particular implementation of S&F unconstitutional. Stop-and-frisk itself can continue, but in a more egalitarian approach, right? In the end, this might actually work to bring an end to S&F, since applying it more equally would necessarily result in more white people being stopped, and that's not going to play well with voters.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:23 AM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Fuck yeah. Once in a while we gain back a few inches.
posted by spitbull at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great news!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2013


No shit.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


So...The judge ruled that the targeting methods used in the practice of stop-and-frisk were racially motivated, thus making this particular implementation of S&F unconstitutional.

So they're going to start targeting Wall Street? Can I help?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


And Bloomberg and Kelly, y'all can bite a dead fish.
posted by spitbull at 8:26 AM on August 12, 2013


I don't hate Mayor Bloomberg, but his support of stop-and-frisk is very disappointing to me. And he threw a big fit about the idea of a monitor for the NYPD, too. Unconstitutional police activity not only hurts people, but ends up costing the city millions of dollars. Enough is enough!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 AM on August 12, 2013


Other recent judicial decisions announced in the New York Times:
Pope Francis is a Catholic, Court of Appeals determines

After four-week trial, jury finds that bears defecate in the woods

Supreme Court decides that there is snow at the north pole
posted by grouse at 8:28 AM on August 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Reading about the NYPD stop and frisk policy has been so strange for me. I'm trying to begin a career in law enforcement in Minnesota, which is the only state where you have to basically put yourself through an academy at your own cost before you can even apply for jobs. And the way instructors have talked about Terry frisks for the entirety of this process - keeping in mind that the instructors are all current or former cops! - is the need to have specific and articulable facts which lead you to have a reasonable suspicion that the person may be armed and that "criminal activity is afoot."

How do you go from that to "just frisk every god damn person you see"?
posted by kavasa at 8:29 AM on August 12, 2013


Stop-and-frisk itself can continue, but in a more egalitarian approach, right?

Yes. Terry stops themselves, and the reasonable suspicion standard, are not going anywhere.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do you go from that to "just frisk every god damn person you see"?

Well, first, you hijack a couple of airliners...
posted by Thorzdad at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2013


The phrase "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" presumably figures heavily, kavasa.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2013


How do you go from that to "just frisk every god damn person you see"?

By picking on poor minorities and hoping that you can cow the population before your policy gets struck down by a court. Also, general arrogance.

NB: I'm a white guy who's been stopped and frisked in NYC. I think it's because I gave money to a bum. The cops were pretty disappointed by the fact that I had nothing of interest on me - I don't think I've seen excitement drain from a face like that since The Phantom Menace came out.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:35 AM on August 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


For some reason it galls me that the NYPD uses the word "furtive." "Oh, we had to stop this 16-year-old black kid, he was acting all FURTIVE and shit. Let's remember the definition of furtive: "Attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive."

Ah. So people who act visibly nervous around police, because the police go around frisking everything young, dark, and male (and sometimes others too) are subject to frisking because they're being... furtive?
posted by ORthey at 8:43 AM on August 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Why do you encrypt your hard drive, citizen?
posted by spitbull at 8:52 AM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


In other good news for justice, it looks like Holder is going to sidestep mandatory minimum sentencing.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Supreme Court decides that there is snow at the north pole

Though with climate change this one isn't so certain anymore.
posted by aught at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2013


I'm sorry, truly, but S&F is not going anywhere. The constitutional basis for each of the individual components of a stop and frisk is well-settled and just plausible enough to get five votes on SCOTUS, which means it'll probably never get that far.

I don't mean to rain on the parade, but as far as I can tell, this isn't one of the negotiable parts of current NYPD practices. Cities can spend decades under this kind of oversight without appreciable change, and I'm pretty sure NYC will.

There's no way this kind of overseer will manage to remedy the very real and very serious injuries of racially-discriminatory stop and frisk, and this decision will not change practices in NYC or the nation one iota.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2013


So...The judge ruled that the targeting methods used in the practice of stop-and-frisk were racially motivated, thus making this particular implementation of S&F unconstitutional. Stop-and-frisk itself can continue, but in a more egalitarian approach, right?

Yay! Poor people of all 'races' can now expect to be frisked indiscriminately!


(seriously, I acknowledge that race issues are serious issues, but mother of dog, the fundamental problems are economic apartheid and inequality. "the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor")
posted by edgeways at 9:01 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Terry frisks for the entirety of this process - keeping in mind that the instructors are all current or former cops! - is the need to have specific and articulable facts which lead you to have a reasonable suspicion that the person may be armed and that "criminal activity is afoot."

A future cop who understands the actual standards for Terry stops? Be still my heart. I once had a case (as a defense lawyer) where the police actually stated that they were frisking to see if the individual had ID. They didn't even try to lie to make it sound legal. I don't love Terry, but seeing it actually followed would be a wonderful start.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:10 AM on August 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


This, Holder, and Sanjay Gupta has me doing a little, tiny victory dance at my desk this morning. Some days it does feel like we might win this.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:12 AM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


For people who have a New Yorker subscription, Jeffrey Toobin wrote a great profile of Shira Scheindlin.
posted by reenum at 9:13 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


How can we force an independent monitor to oversea reforms?
posted by symbioid at 9:16 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do you go from that to "just frisk every god damn person you see"?

"I smell pot."
posted by dirigibleman at 9:20 AM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


gingerbeer, I like how all three of your reasons to celebrate are connected. Especially I presume because so many of these S&F engagements wound up with the targeted minor arrested for displaying an otherwise decriminalized amount of weed by virtue of following orders and emptying his pockets for the nice man with the gun. Because you know, the crime is to display it publicly. Catch-22, gotcha punk, now you've got a record.

If the shit was legal in small quantities, as it effectively is for people who don't fear being stopped and frisked in NYC, thousands of young lives might not have been shunted off to a crappy start in New York, a freaking criminal record for having a joint.

We saw the same demonization of pot and classic reefer madness racism in the right wing framing of the Trayvon Martin case.

Marijuana legalization is a civil rights issue. It's the point of the damn spear in some ways.
posted by spitbull at 9:22 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


01/15/11: Police stop a 49-year-old in Brooklyn, citing "wearing clothes commonly used in a crime." No weapon is found.

Does anyone know what this is intended to mean? I know most/all the reasons for stop and frisk are bullshit, but stuff like, "acting furtive" or "appears to be casing a home" are at least phrases that make sense. What are clothes commonly used in a crime?
posted by muddgirl at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2013


What are clothes commonly used in a crime?

A knit cap, an eyemask, and a tight, striped sweater. Add a burlap sack with a dollar sign on it and you're good to go.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


dirigibleman: ""I smell pot.""
I got stopped once and the office said he smelled alcohol. I was 17 and the time and didn't drink at all. I asked him to describe what he was smelling to me: was it fruity or what? Sour? Bitter? I had no idea. He got flustered and just said he smelled it, and could he search my car? I said no, waited while he did whatever it is cops do on that kind of stop, got my license and reg back and then drove off.
posted by boo_radley at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What are clothes commonly used in a crime?

Gangster clothes - come on, you know, the stuff urban youth wear. Don't be so coy!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2013


I got stopped once and the office said he smelled alcohol.

Imagine how much a human being would have to have drank in order to have someone in another car smell it as you drove by. People in positions of authority tend to hate logic, though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 AM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


At least in Mass, the odor of "burnt marijuana" is no longer sufficient justification for a search because it's only a civil infraction, and you can't search people on suspicion of a civil infraction. Getting that drilled into some heads has been a challenge though. And boo_radley, I'm thrilled that worked for you. In some places asking that question could've earned you a night in jail, illegal or not. The cops can turn that into a sobriety test refusal in a heartbeat, thanks to an innovative technique called "lying."
posted by 1adam12 at 9:45 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I predict that the Supremes will overturn the lower court and allow racially targeted stop and frisk to continue. Over the past decades the Supremes have established a wide body of precedent that unless it can be proven that the individual cop, judge, prosecutor, etc is personally and deliberately racist then statistical proof of systemic but non-KKK style individual deliberate racism don't matter.

It has, for example been accepted by the Court that statistics prove a clear racial pattern fortraffic stops, and the Court ruled that it didn't matter sinceno one had any evidence that the police were racist on an individual and deliberste level.

Unless you have a recording of a cop saying that he personally dislikes black people and that is why he stops them then thecSupremes don't care. And even then they won't concede that the system is flawed, merely that the inrividual copmight, possibly, merit discipline of some sort.

We have a Plessy or Dread Scott type situation wrt systemic racism, the Supremes have declared that they are fine with it and until we get a Court willing to overturn that precedent then nothing will change on the legal front.

We'd be better off trying to get a mayor who will change the policy than hoping that the Roberts court will sustain a lower court ruling that systemic racisk both exists and needs to be fixed.
posted by sotonohito at 9:48 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What are clothes commonly used in a crime?

A hoodie. Every criminal wears one.
posted by ORthey at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2013


Does anyone know what this is intended to mean?

Haha.
posted by mhoye at 9:55 AM on August 12, 2013


What are clothes commonly used in a crime?

Something like this, I suppose.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:57 AM on August 12, 2013


In this article with some top officials reacting to the rule http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/officials-react-stop-frisk-ruling-article-1.1424482 every single one says that "Stop and Frisk" was obviously bad.
Why did it then take a court ruling to stop it?
posted by mulligan at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2013


"01/15/11: Police use force to stop a 52-year-old in Manhattan, citing "other." No weapon is found."

ok now do this one
posted by skrozidile at 10:02 AM on August 12, 2013


"01/15/11: Police use force to stop a 52-year-old in Manhattan, citing "other." No weapon is found."

ok now do this one


That's the so-called "Levinas-stop."
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


"01/15/11: Police use force to stop a 52-year-old in Manhattan, citing "other." No weapon is found."

ok now do this one


The man had clearly stolen his own weapon. Where was it? Why didn't he have it? A bit suspicious, walking around unarmed. Clearly the man was some sort of drug lord or pain wizard, if he was walking around unarmed like that. He must have had some sort of elaborate system of armed guards protecting him. And what sort of dangerous, powerful person has access to his own army like that? Is it even legal to have your own army, in America? I don't think so. So, the question remains, why was this man leading an armed invasion of the USA? To be honest, I don't think they used nearly enough force to take down this man. This "other."
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:14 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the officer says "I smell alcohol", don't reply "Well, have you been drinking?" No matter how hilarious it would seem at the time.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:16 AM on August 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


Why did it then take a court ruling to stop it?

This court ruling doesn't stop it. From the article:

Noting that the Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible under certain conditions, the judge stressed that she was “not ordering an end to the practice of stop-and-frisk.

I don't know what I am supposed to get all excited about here. The police will find a way to continue to do whatever it is they are doing in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, whatever that means.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:33 AM on August 12, 2013


Watch the Mayor's new conference about the ruling. He's stumbling all over his words, very strange. Maybe he's nervous?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:45 AM on August 12, 2013


Maybe he's got cottonmouth.
posted by rtha at 10:47 AM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Maybe he's nervous?

Sounds suspicious. What's he wearing?
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:57 AM on August 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Would you say he's being furtive?
posted by gingerbeer at 10:58 AM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Comissioner Kelly: it is "recklessly untrue" that the department engages in racial profiling. "Race is never a reason to conduct a stop".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:06 AM on August 12, 2013


A comment I made in an earlier thread, the linkless version:

248 people were stopped/frisked in the First Precinct in the last quarter of 2012.

148 were black; 43 were white; 33 were white Hispanic; 13 were black Hispanic.

According to the census tract data for the precinct, it is 66% white, 6.5% Hispanic, and 2.2% African American.

Couldn't possibly have anything to do with racial profiling.
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gothamist just asked a question (paraphrase: why did stops drop last year if it's such an integral part of your crime fighting?)! Love them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:18 AM on August 12, 2013


Guys, stop and frisk works because people are scared of getting stopped and they're leaving their guns at home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:29 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I listened to as much of the press conference as I could (several lengthy interruptions for work calls, etc). I have such a hard time following the Mayor when he talks about this topic because it seems like he's dancing around so much- I can't even give you an example, the twists and turns leave me feeling context-free. He continues to give me the feeling that he, and commissioner Ray Kelly, want to have the power to do whatever they want, whenever they want free of oversight and accountability. I don't appreciate the fear-mongering stories about hypothetical cops having to stop and think about the law before they draw their weapons to shoot someone. Laid out like that it doesn't sound so scary, does it?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:39 AM on August 12, 2013


If I were frisking people, I would stay away from a pain wizard.
posted by squinty at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2013


Comissioner Kelly: it is "recklessly untrue" that the department engages in racial profiling. "Race is never a reason to conduct a stop".

Ray Kelly Wants Stop And Frisk To "Instill Fear" In Minorities, State Senator Testifies
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


symbioid How can we force an independent monitor to oversee reforms?

The judge has appointed an independent monitor (also known as a "special master") to see that her ruling is followed by the NYPD and the City of New York.

He will report to her on whether her ruling is being complied with or not. If it is not, Federal district court judges have broad powers to enforce their rulings.

For example, in 2006 after ruling that inmates access to health care was inadequate and the quality of that health care deplorable, a federal judge seized control of the State of California prison health care system and placed it in receivership. It remained in receivership for more than six years. He ordered changes that cost "billions" and the state complied.

Here is some more info on today's ruling:

Court Oversight Isn’t New for Police in New York, or Elsewhere

The judge designated an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.

Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a “joint remedial process” — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk.


Shira Scheindlin, Judge in Stop-and-Frisk Class Action, Issues Historic Ruling Creating Monitor of NYPD

Zimroth will have to develop a set of training and policy reforms to reduce the occurrence of unconstitutional stops, and conduct "regular compliance reviews" to make sure the NYPD doesn't continue to violate the law. He is supposed to issue public reports every six months. The city will have to pick up the full tab for his office. His tenure is open-ended.
posted by mlis at 2:09 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In this article with some top officials reacting to the rule

I'm shocked...SHOCKED I TELL to see that the only person, quoted in that article, upset about this ruling is State Sen. Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn

"We have a chain of command in the NYPD, and a system in place to investigate the actions taken by police officers if they violate the law."

Tell that to Adrian Schoolcraft.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:59 PM on August 12, 2013


There is one quick trick for cleaning up our prison problem : Accept that, since the DEA had an entire division dedicated to illegally using NSA tips, but NSA won't declassify their investigations that produced those tips, then much or all evidence produced by the DEA should be considered suspect and thrown out. Invent some notion of class action appeal to give everyone with any DEA evidence used in their case a new trial. Voila, prison population reduced!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:19 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


For example, in 2006 after ruling that inmates access to health care was inadequate and the quality of that health care deplorable, a federal judge seized control of the State of California prison health care system and placed it in receivership. It remained in receivership for more than six years. He ordered changes that cost "billions" and the state complied.

Umm, they absolutely DID NOT comply, because they're letting 9,600 inmates go because they failed to rectify the conditions in 2011 after the Supreme Court got involved to confirm that they had failed to rectify the conditions. Calling that success is disingenous at best. California's prisons won't have adequate health care for the remaining prisoners, either, but it'll have few enough inmates that it passes an artificial and inadequate limit set by SCOTUS.

Just think about desegregation. Schools are more segregated today than they were right after Brown and "All Deliberate Speed." The judiciary isn't a miracle worker, it can't make us love our fellow man and it can't solve the kinds of racist political and social problems of which stop & frisk is a symptom.

So the real question is: what could a special master order the NYPD to do that would reduce stop and frisks? I don't mean: "What could we do to reduce the reporting of stop and frisks?" Just don't fill out the forms, it's easy! Fewer S&Ps! I mean: what orders and commands could a special master issue that would rectify the yawning injustice of the NYPD's behavior here? (And how could she be sure that the NYPD hadn't just reduced reporting?)
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:01 PM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mayor Bloomberg Extremely Angry at Stop-and-Frisk Ruling
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There are always people that are afraid of police ... some of them come from cultures where police are the enemy. Here, the police department are our friends." - Mayor Bloomberg
posted by knile at 12:58 AM on August 13, 2013


John Oliver Helps White People Get Stop-and-Frisk: ‘Your Neighborhood is Terminal B at LaGuardia’
posted by homunculus at 1:56 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Questlove on Police Racial Profiling, Stop & Frisk, the Message He Took from Trayvon Martin Verdict
posted by homunculus at 9:40 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, the posters are working!

(I love that none of them actually depict a NYPD officer or are just a big picture of Ray Kelly's face.)
posted by Eideteker at 9:59 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 11 Most Bizarre SWAT Team Raids
posted by jeffburdges at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2013


This Is the NYPD's Secret Spy Cab
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities: After 9/11, the NYPD built in effect its own CIA—and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA.
posted by homunculus at 4:18 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The NYPD Guide to Watching Cricket (and Muslims) In New York City
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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