The New York Times: Stop and Frisk, Continued

On our ‘Clean Halls’ class action lawsuit with co-counsel NYCLU and LatinoJustice PRLDEF

The Bloomberg administration and its police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, have been disturbingly dismissive of complaints about the city’s program of stops, frisks and arrests that is ensnaring hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year.

Civil rights lawsuits may now force the administration to examine this policy, which has largely focused on minority neighborhoods and has created anger and distrust among black and Hispanic New Yorkers who feel that the police view them as suspects, not citizens.

The latest suit, filed last week by the New York Civil Liberties Union in federal court on behalf of 13 plaintiffs, focuses on private rental buildings whose owners have given the police permission to patrol the halls. According to the complaint, thousands of residents in buildings enrolled in the Clean Halls program are subject to being stopped and illegally ticketed or arrested for trespassing in their own buildings if they fail to produce identification when they take out the garbage, check the mail, duck out to the store for a quart of milk. Young people growing up in these buildings, lawyers say, are routinely searched without legal cause and detained. The lawsuit, which charges the city with violating the Fourth Amendment and the Federal Fair Housing Act, is similar to one filed two years ago against the New York Police Department and the city’s public housing agency, which is alleged to have employed a similar patrol system.

The city claims that the Clean Halls program fights crime and that building owners and managers heartily approve of it. But that does not justify the kinds of abuses that the plaintiffs claim to be receiving at the hands of the police. At the very least, the city needs to make sure that its officers are following the law and treating these residents with respect.

Read more here.