NEW YORK—Activists opposed to the stop and frisk policing practice filed a court motion on Oct. 7 against the city’s request to stay on a landmark federal ruling that would reform the practice.
Tired of waiting for changes ordered by a federal judge in August, activists rallied on the steps of City Hall on a rainy Monday afternoon to again speak against stop and frisk, a practice they thought they were finished fighting.
United States District Court Judge Shira Sheindlin issued a ruling in August claiming the stop and frisk practice was being done unconstitutionally in New York City. She ordered that a federal monitor oversee the practice and that a meeting be held between all impacted parties.
Shortly after the ruling was issued, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly vowed to appeal it. Instead of abiding by the ruling, the city filed an appeal in federal court and a motion requesting a stay, hoping to hold off implementing any changes until the appeal is ruled on.
“In the face of overwhelming evidence and calls for change, they continue to resist these calls and try to do whatever they can in terms of legal maneuvers to stop this change from happening,” Darius Charney, a senior staff attorney for Center for Constitutional Rights, said.
Djibril Toure, a member of Communities United for Police Reform, knows what waiting for the city feels like. Toure was a part of Daniels v. the City of New York. That case was ruled on in 2003, also by Judge Sheindlin, who ordered the NYPD to maintain a written policy to prevent racial profiling.
Despite the 2003 ruling, the number of stops substantially increased over the next decade, peaking at nearly 700,000 in 2011. After years of non-compliance, the reformers went back to court, won again, and again watched the city attempt to avoid change.
“They still continue to stand as a blockade to change,” Toure said. “What we are saying is we are not going to allow you to do that because the city does not belong to you.”
City Councilmember Jumaane Williams has been an outspoken critic of the controversial police practice and a lead sponsor for the package of reform bills that was approved by the City Council in late August.
In a passionate speech, Williams cited the federal ruling, the passage of the reform bills in City Council, and the nomination of a Democratic candidate who vows to change the practice as a testament to what the city really wants.
“I have never seen such arrogance, such hardheadedness—it must be a psychosis that everyone can repudiate you as wrong on this issue and you still want your legacy to be as much damage to community and policing in this city as possible,” Williams said, referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Even on your way out, you are doing as much as you can to send us in the wrong direction.”