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Judge: Stop-And-Frisk Policy Violates Rights


A federal judge in New York City has ruled that the New York City Police Department's stop and frisk policy is unconstitutional, amounting to, quote, "indirect racial profiling of young men of color." Mayor Michael Bloomberg lambasted that ruling, and as reporter Arun Venugopal of member station WNYC found, the reaction in the most affected communities is mixed.

ARUN VENUGOPAL, BYLINE: There are few places in the city where stop and frisk has been practiced as often as in the Brownsville part of Brooklyn. In 2011, nearly a thousand stops were made around the Brownsville Houses Public Housing Complex, but the police discovered just a single gun. You see the police presence everywhere, from patrolmen on foot to mobile police towers with their tinted windows looming over the neighborhood.

LIEUTENANT EDWARD HARTLEY: All the time, you get pulled over in this neighborhood - by white cops, I should say.

VENUGOPAL: Edward Hartley's a lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps, and is happy that stop and frisk has been struck down.

HARTLEY: Definitely. It should have never been an issue. I mean, Bloomberg did some good things, but he did a lot of bad things, you know. But stop and frisk was definitely a bad thing.

VENUGOPAL: But with some people, there's more a wariness, or a sense of cynicism. Joseph Isaac lives in the Queensbridge section of Queens. He says the judge's appointment of an outside lawyer to serve as a monitor over the NYPD wouldn't make much of a difference.

JOSEPH ISAAC: Even if they ruled it as unconstitutional, a federal monitor isn't going to hold any police officer back, especially any undercover police officer - not out here, anyways.

VENUGOPAL: Others say stop and frisk has been a good thing. That includes parents who worry about their kids, like 18-year-old Dwight Pollard. He's a father of two, and says he's been stopped four or five times in Brooklyn in just the last month, because, in his own words, he fits the stereotype of a young black male. But even thinks that stop and frisk makes his neighborhood safer.

DWIGHT POLLARD: That I can't lie about, it does. Because with them on every corner, people think twice about what they're going to do or what they're going to walk with on them. So that can also save another person's life.

VENUGOPAL: Another resident of Brownsville, 50-year-old Carl Daniels, says the neighborhood has been transformed in recent years. He credits stop and frisk.

CARL DANIELS: A whole lot, because now, senior citizens can feel safe walking in the buildings, and plus they're putting the cameras up now. So that's a blessing right there, too.

VENUGOPAL: When I read Daniels a passage from Judge Shira Scheindlin's ruling...

(Reading) Those who are routinely subjected to stops are overwhelmingly people of color.

...he gets angry at her, and defends the policy.

DANIELS: I say it stops a lot of people getting robbed, a lot of people from getting sticked up, like, getting robbed, a lot of people getting killed. And it benefited a lot of people. So, I say that it ain't unconstitutional. It should be constitutional. It should be in law.

VENUGOPAL: Which is pretty much what Mayor Michael Bloomberg argues, and he says the city will appeal the court's ruling. For NPR News, I'm Arun Venugopal, in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Arun Venugopal

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