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Racial Disparity Increases in Stops With 87 Percent of People Stopped Black and Hispanic
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February 17, 2010, New York, NY – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) found significant racial disparity in the fourth quarter data for 2009 on stop-and-frisks just released by the New York City Police Department. CCR, which represents victims of the NYPD’s racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policies in a class action lawsuit, will receive more comprehensive data than the summary numbers released to the City Council yesterday and will provide those results next week.
Meanwhile, the preliminary numbers indicate a nearly 10 percent rise in the number of New Yorkers being stopped by the police, with the racial disparity of the stops climbing as well. In 2009, a record 575,304 people were stopped, 87 percent of whom were Black and Hispanic, while from 2005 to 2008, approximately 80 percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise approximately 25 percent and 28 percent of New York City’s total population, respectively.
Said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, “2009 was the worst year for stop-and-frisks on record. For many kids, getting stopped by the police while walking home from school has become a normal afterschool activity, and that’s tragic. The public is demanding constructive change and an end to racially-biased policing by the NYPD.”
The City often claims the racial disparity in stops is accounted for by the racial breakdown of crime suspects, but the data from the first three quarters of 2009 (fourth quarter detail unavailable at this time) reveal that “fits relevant description” is the reason for a stop only 15 percent of the time. Far and away the most often cited reason for a stop by the police is the vague and undefined, “furtive movements” (nearly 50 percent of all stops), and “casing a victim or location” (nearly 30 percent of all stops). Also listed are “inappropriate attire for season,” “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime,” and “suspicious bulge,” among other boxes an officer can check off on the form.
Only 1.3 percent of the year’s stops resulted in the discovery of a weapon, and only 6% of the stops resulted in arrests.
Said CCR Attorney Darius Charney, “This kind of heavy-handed policing promotes mistrust, doubt and fear of police officers in communities of color and only serves to make the police’s job more difficult.”
Last year, CCR released its preliminary analysis of UF-250, or “stop-and-frisk,” data from 2005 to the first half of 2008, the years covering a class action racial profiling lawsuit filed by the Center in early 2008. That report is available on the CCR website here: www.ccrjustice/stopandfrisk. A ruling by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin required the NYPD to make public all raw stop-and-frisk data from1998 through the present in relation to the case, Floyd v. City of New York. This was the first time this data has been made publicly available. CCR’s report showed significant racial disparity in who is stopped and how they are treated, indicating the need for important reforms to the oversight of the New York City Police Department, and the new numbers for 2009 continue the trend.
Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to be stopped by the police than Whites; Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be frisked after a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites; and Blacks and Latinos are more likely to have physical force used against them during a NYPD-initiated stop than Whites. Yet the rates of summons and arrests and recovery of weapons and contraband from all stops is not only extremely low, but nearly the same across racial categories.
Police stops and frisks without reasonable suspicion violate the Fourth Amendment, and racial profiling is a violation of fundamental rights and protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On January 31, 2008, CCR and the law firms of Beldock, Levine & Hoffman and Covington & Burling filed a class action lawsuit charging the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of New Yorkers.
Copies of last year’s report and the complete data are available at www.ccrjustice/stopandfrisk. For more information on Floyd v. City of New York, click here.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.