(New York, N.Y., 8/12/13) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed a federal court ruling that the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk program has violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of the city's residents.
The judge's ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought against the city by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging the constitutionality of the police practice. NYPD documents reveal that between 2004 and 2012 police had detained, questioned, and searched some 4.43 million people, and that 80 percent of those stopped were minorities.
Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the stop-and-frisk program violates the Constitution's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect against unreasonable searches and promise equal protection under the law. She also ordered that an independent monitor be appointed to oversee immediate changes in some police procedures.
Judge Scheindlin reached her decision in part because of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's statement that “the NYPD focuses stop and frisks on young blacks and Hispanics in order to instill in them a fear of being stopped.” She also chastised the NYPD for “repeatedly turn a blind eye” to its officers' racial profiling, which Judge Scheindlin noted was a “deeply flawed way of identifying the criminal population.”
In a statement responding to today's ruling, CAIR-New York said:
“We welcome the court's decision against the NYPD's racially biased and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program. Judge Scheindlin and the Center for Constitutional Rights helped us mark a milestone today in balancing the power between the people and the state and moving the civil rights movement one important step forward.
“We hope that today's rebuke of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program will end any discussion of the potential nomination of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly has called this unconstitutional program 'essential' and said 'you can't police without doing it.'
“We repeat our call for increased oversight and investigations of the NYPD's continued surveillance of American Muslim communities, houses of worship, and student clubs across the mid-Atlantic region. This unconstitutional spying program has interfered with lawful religious practice, cost taxpayers too much, and strained relations between the NYPD and one of the many diverse communities it is meant to serve.
“We still have a long way to go, and the Community Safety Act and other similar legislation is also key to ensuring the rights of New Yorkers of all colors.
“Additionally, we urge other courts to follow Judge Scheindlin's lead in striking down law enforcement practices that rely on the profiling of minority communities.”
CAIR-NY has joined members of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) to advocate ending discriminatory policing through the Community Safety Act. CAIR-NY has also advocated for the passage of bills in the New York State Assembly and Senate that would create independent oversight of the NYPD.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Operations Coordinator Sadyia Khalique, 212-870-2002, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 202-742-6410, 720-251-0425, email@example.com; CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, email@example.com