News / USA

NY Mayor Challenges Order for 'Stop, Question and Frisk' Reform

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, speaks while Police Commissioner Ray Kelly looks on during a news conference in New York, Aug. 12, 2013.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, speaks while Police Commissioner Ray Kelly looks on during a news conference in New York, Aug. 12, 2013.
Carolyn Weaver
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is challenging a federal judge’s order for reforms in a controversial policing practice known as "stop, question and frisk."

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday that New York police had racially discriminated and violated the constitutional rights of minorities in choosing whom to stop for questioning and frisking for weapons or other contraband.

The decision, following a trial of a class action lawsuit, found that from 2004 to 2012 hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, overwhelmingly young men of color, were stopped and searched by police who had no objective basis for suspicion. The great majority were let go without an arrest or summons, and without contraband having been found - evidence, according to the ruling, that the stops should not have been made in the first place.

In many police reports, the judge wrote, the only basis reported for a stop was that the subject was in a “high crime” area, or had made “furtive movements.” No specific suspected crime was listed in police reports for 36 percent of the stops in 2009.

According to the decision, the police policy resulted in widespread violations of the 4th Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws. The ruling said that the city’s highest officials had “turned a blind eye to the evidence” and “willfully ignored overwhelming proof” of racial profiling by New York police.

At a news conference, Mayor Bloomberg rejected the ruling and said the judge was biased against the police.

“Throughout the case, we didn't believe we were getting a fair trial, and this decision supports that belief,” he said.

In the last decade, he said, crime in New York has dramatically declined as stop-and-frisk numbers have risen.  He said the policy had prevented violent crime by discouraging people from carrying guns.

“The fact that fewer guns are on the street now shows that our efforts have been successful,” the mayor said. “There is just no question that Stop-Question-Frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men.”

Crime has dropped elsewhere in the U.S. as well, including in cities without similar stop-and-frisk policies.

FILE - U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, May 17, 2013.FILE - U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, May 17, 2013.
x
FILE - U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, May 17, 2013.
FILE - U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, May 17, 2013.
Judge Scheindlin’s opinion did not address whether the policy is effective, but noted that “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” While deterring crime was a “laudable” goal, she wrote, “this method is unconstitutional.” Being stopped and frisked, she wrote, was “a demeaning and humiliating experience. No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life.”

In addition to appointing an independent monitor to oversee the police department’s compliance with the Constitution, Judge Scheindlin ordered other steps, including a pilot program requiring police in some New York neighborhoods to wear lapel cameras to document their encounters with civilians.

New York officials said the city may seek to prevent the ruling from taking effect until after an appeal is filed and decided.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More