Historic NYC Stop and Frisk trial starts today
Today starts the historic Stop and Frisk trial, Floyd v. City of New York, which challenges the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning, and frisking individuals in building hallways and on city streets. The trial has been elevated to class-action status because it represents hundreds of thousands of individuals — primarily Black, Latino, non-gender conforming, immigrant, and homeless — who have been illegally searched.
Stop and Frisk practices have escalated dramatically under the Bloomberg administration, which justifies such practices as a means to take illegal guns off of the street. However, there has not been an increase in gun retrievals even as NYPD officers have violated the constitutional rights of thousands of New Yorkers. Instead, residents of marginalized communities describe themselves as “under siege” and “under occupation.” To learn more about this case, and the wider implications of it, see the website for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), a coalition of grassroots and policy organizations.
You can also get involved in state-level advocacy to decriminalize marijuana, an issue that has garnered the support of Governor Cuomo. Currently, when the NYPD stops individuals and orders them to turn out their pockets, the NYPD will arrest them for possessing marijuana. It is not against the law to carry concealed marijuana, but it is currently against the law to expose it in public view. It is illegal for police officers to arrest people they have forced to expose marijuana, but it happens constantly. To ensure that police officers cannot continue this illegal practice, advocates have proposed to decriminalize possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana.
People who live in New York should e-mail your elected official and New York State leadership and tell them that the time has come to end unlawful marijuana arrests in New York.
More useful information on Stop and Frisk is available from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has published an excellent new report titled “The Human Impact” (and interesting info-graphics) and ColorOfChange.org, part of the coalition helping mobilize support for today’s rally in downtown Manhattan.
[Photos: Ethan Vesely-Flad, Fellowship of Reconciliation. Taken during the NYC Father’s Day Silent March Against Stop-and-Frisk on June 17, 2012.]