NEW YORK—In an unprecedented move by the City Council, Speaker Christine Quinn announced the Council will file a legal declaration in support of the federal stop and frisk ruling and try to block the stay requested by the city.
The move pits the Council against the mayor, who has asked the court for a stay on the recommendations while the ruling is under appeal.
A New York City federal judge ruled that the city’s stop-and-frisk policy is a violation of the Fourth and the 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution, on Aug. 12, 2013. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed the ruling on Aug. 16.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to block the court ruling is unacceptable and we will do every legal thing we possibly can to make sure the city is not granted a stay and the city is immediately implementing the recommendations of the court,” Quinn said from the Red Room at City Hall on Sept. 1, 2013. “It is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of young men of color, who have been needlessly stopped every year on our streets, to have a stay in this case.”
On August 12, a U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled the police practice of stop and frisk unconstitutional and ordered a federal monitor to oversee the New York Police Department (NYPD) in relation to the practice. The judge also made several recommendations including body cameras and requiring community meetings.
Mayor Bloomberg is a supporter of stop and frisk and cites it as a major reason for historic lows in crime. He is also an outspoken critic of the Scheindlin ‘s ruling.
According to data provided by the NYPD, there were nearly 700,000 stops in 2011, with the overwhelming majority of those stopped being young men of color. Of those stopped, 88 percent were never charged with a crime.
The mayor is expected to file a request for a stay as early as Tuesday, Sept. 3, which would mean the city would not be mandated to comply with the recommendations of the judge until the case has left the courts.
Because the case is in federal court, the city is not automatically given a stay, which is the normal procedure in state courts. Quinn said this was a major factor in filing the declaration.
Quinn, who is also running for mayor as a Democrat, denied the move was political. She said the timing of the filing, which when filed on Tuesday will be exactly one week before the primary election, was not up to her, but was based on the court’s action and the city’s actions.
Quinn, who was the front-runner in the polls for months, has sunk to third place in the most recent polls with rival Bill de Blasio, the current public advocate, taking a double digit lead.
De Blasio has criticized Quinn for not supporting both of the bills aimed at reforming stop and frisk which recently passed the City Council. Quinn supported the creation of the office of the inspector general, which would oversee all policies in the NYPD, but was against the racial profiling bill which would expand the groups protected and allow citizens to sue the city if they felt they were victims of racial profiling.
“Speaker Quinn’s decision to sue her own choice for police commissioner one week before the election is a desperate attempt to distract attention from her eight year record of standing with Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly as the overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk exploded, as well as her vote against an enforceable ban on racial profiling.”
Quinn said she would be open to having NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly back as the head of the NYPD if elected, something de Blasio has used against her in his campaign.
“The point of doing this declaration isn’t about the mayor’s race. It is about making sure the judge’s ruling gets implemented,” Quinn said. “What would be political is not to do something I believe I have an obligation to do as a government official because there is also an election going on.”
In response to the move by the Council, a spokesperson from mayor’s office said in an emailed statement, “We are confident the ruling will be overturned on appeal and the appeal should be heard.”