Activists outraged after federal court blocks reforms against NYPD’s ‘humiliating and demeaning’ ‘stop-and-frisk’ program
Activist groups in New York City slammed a federal appeal court’s decision to block another federal judge’s decision ruling the local police department’s heavily-criticized “stop and frisk” policy.
“What this ruling means is that the NYPD will continue to profile young people and other people on the streets — continue to stop and frisk them with no basis whatsoever, except for their race and ethnicity,” Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director for Desis Rising Up and Moving, (DRUM) told The Raw Story in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “This is a continuing disrespect to the rights of New Yorkers and our communities.”
Despite being pushed by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly as “a fact of urban life,” the policy has been decried for years as focusing nearly entirely on Black and Latino communities, while not actually reducing the city’s crime rate.
But Ahmed said that while the “stop and frisk’s” impact on those communities is indisputable, the city’s young South Asian population in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Jamaica Queens — both among the areas registering the most stops over the last 10 years — is also tangible.
One DRUM member, Ahmed said, reported being stopped by two plainclothes officers in broad daylight on Woodside Avenue and ordered to strip from the waist down and bend over as the officers joked about him “coughing,” a reference to medical physical exams, while searching him.
“It’s not just casual incidents happening, which in and of themselves would be wrong,” Ahmed said. “These are extremely humiliating and demeaning experiences toward many youths who are low-income, who are trying to get to school, trying to get to work, running errands for their families. Many of them are undocumented immigrants, as well.”
As CBS News reported on Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to not only block Judge Shira Scheindlin’s August 2013 order to revise the policy and institute new training measures and a federal overseer to monitor the changes. The three-judge panel also decided to remove Scheindlin from the case entirely, arguing that she violated her judicial code of conduct by defending her decision in interviews.
Many DRUM members, Ahmed said, “were extremely excited when the original verdict came down, and were looking forward to the remedies process. But now we see that those remedies have been put on hold and we’re immediately hearing back from those members that they are angered and upset, but that they will continue to fight back.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union also signaled its intention to appeal Thursday’s ruling in a statement on its website by executive director Donna Lieberman.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the stop-and-frisk regime is unconstitutional and out of control — just ask any Black or brown New Yorker,” Lieberman’s statement read. “We expect the next mayoral administration to make reforming stop-and-frisk a top priority, and we are confident New York City will soon see a day when all New Yorkers’ basic rights are protected and respected.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]