Mayor Bill De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced yesterday that the City would drop its appeal of a federal judge’s decision to place checks on the police practice of stop and frisk. In that class action lawsuit, Judge Shira Scheindlin determined that the NYPD’s application of stop and frisk was unconstitutional and resulting in racial profiling.
The appeal had been initiated by the Bloomberg administration, which tried to have her decision thrown out in a last attempt to legitimize this bad practice.
The new mayor announced that the City had agreed to a federal monitor who, for a period of three years, will oversee reforms meant to end discriminatory policing. While on the campaign trail, De Blasio had pledged to reform stop and frisk.
The settlement of this lawsuit is a critical step forward in restoring the civil rights of New Yorkers, and, in turn, improving police-community relations. Thousands of young African American and Latino men had been stopped and frisked unlawfully, as Scheindlin found. De Blasio’s move also reaffirms democracy in this city, where massive mobilizations and organizing had taken place against the out-of-control application of stop and frisk.
The settlement does not signal the end of stop and frisk. Instead, it demonstrates that at the end of the day, we must uphold our Constitution. The old guard of this city has long propelled the myth that public safety depends on running over civil rights, and that is simply unacceptable.
As Scheindlin indicated, we expect the De Blasio administration and Commissioner Bratton to reform stop and frisk in an inclusive way.
To this end, we urge them to include activists, community leaders, citizens and civil rights advocates in the reform committee. This committee must act with complete transparency so that New Yorkers can learn about approaches to public safety and the efforts to reform police practices.
We applaud the decision of the new administration and hope this is just the first on many steps in establishing a positive relationship between the Mayor and his constituents, and improving the quality of life in our City.