Today is the beginning of a trial that determines the constitutionality of New York’s controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy.
Opponents of the policy say it is racist and unconstitutional.
Proponents – including the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg – say Stop-and-Frisk has been an essential tool for reducing gun violence.
Expected to last well into May, the trial will feature testimony from current and former police officials, as well as secret station house audio recordings, which the lawyers bringing the suit say were recorded by police whistle-blowers to demonstrate the pressure that officers are under to make stops.
Although the courtroom will hear from 11 black or biracial men and a Hispanic woman about their experiences of being stopped repeatedly by the police, the class-action lawsuit — Floyd v. City of New York — 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 federal judge hearing the case is Shira Scheindlin, who late last year heard a case regarding police stops in a residential building in the Bronx. Scheindlin ruled these stops unconstitutional.
But today’s case – Floyd v. City of New York – is on an entirely different level in terms of scope and significance.
But the Floyd suit, which was filed in 2008, challenges the largest number of stops — several million in recent years — and embodies the stop-and-frisk debate most closely. The trial centers on whether street stops in the city have soared because, as the plaintiffs claim, the Police Department has increasingly ignored constitutional limits on its authority to detain people when they investigate behavior that they deem suspicious.
Thoughts on the Stop-and-Frisk trial?
Are you confident the policy will be found unconstitutional?
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