(New York, N.Y., 8/12/13) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed a federal court ruling that the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program has violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of the city’s residents.
The judge’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought against the city by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging the constitutionality of the police practice. NYPD documents reveal that between 2004 and 2012 police had detained, questioned, and searched some 4.43 million people, and that 80 percent of those stopped were minorities.
Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the stop-and-frisk program violates the Constitution’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect against unreasonable searches and promise equal protection under the law. She also ordered that an independent monitor be appointed to oversee immediate changes in some police procedures.
The long-awaited decision declaring the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics unconstitutional was mostly expected; even the staunchest defenders of the practice anticipated that Judge Shira A. Scheindlin would find the stops violated the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
But it was her other finding — that the police had violated the 14th Amendment by engaging in racial profiling in carrying out those stops — that drew blood.
In a statement responding to today’s ruling, CAIR-New York said:
“We welcome the court’s decision against the NYPD’s racially biased and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program. Judge Scheindlin and the Center for Constitutional Rights helped us mark a milestone today in balancing the power between the people and the state and moving the civil rights movement one important step forward.
“We hope that today’s rebuke of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program will end any discussion of the potential nomination of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly has called this unconstitutional program ‘essential’ and said ‘you can’t police without doing it.’
“We repeat our call for increased oversight and investigations of the NYPD’s continued surveillance of American Muslim communities, houses of worship, and student clubs across the mid-Atlantic region. This unconstitutional spying program has interfered with lawful religious practice, cost taxpayers too much, and strained relations between the NYPD and one of the many diverse communities it is meant to serve.
“We still have a long way to go, and the Community Safety Act and other similar legislation is also key to ensuring the rights of New Yorkers of all colors.
“Additionally, we urge other courts to follow Judge Scheindlin’s lead in striking down law enforcement practices that rely on the profiling of minority communities.”