Ending Michael Bloomberg's Racist Profiling Campaign

A federal judge has ruled against the city and its racist application of Stop and Frisk. Here is the excellent news:

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Judge Scheindlin found that the city "adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data." She rejected the city's arguments that more stops happened in minority neighborhoods solely because those happened to have high-crime rates.

I'm still wending my way through the opinion but this portion is very, very important:

Based on the expert testimony I find the following:

(1) The NYPD carries out more stops where there are more black and Hispanic residents, even when other relevant variables are held constant. The racial composition of a precinct or census tract predicts the stop rate above and beyond the crime rate.p> (2) Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be stopped within precincts and census tracts, even after controlling for other relevant variables. This is so even in areas with low crime rates, racially heterogenous populations, or predominately white populations.

(3) For the period 2004 through 2009, when any law enforcement action was taken following a stop, blacks were 30% more likely to be arrested (as opposed to receiving a summons) than whites, for the same suspected crime.

(4) For the period 2004 through 2009, after controlling for suspected crime and precinct characteristics, blacks who were stopped were about 14% more likely -- and Hispanics 9% more likely -- than whites to be subjected to the use of force.

(5) For the period 2004 through 2009, all else being equal, the odds of a stop resulting in any further enforcement action were 8% lower if the person stopped was black than if the person stopped was white. In addition, the greater the black population in a precinct, the less likely that a stop would result in a sanction. Together, these results show that blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites

As I've noted before, Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg justify the number of stops by arguing that black and Latino men commit the majority of violent crime. This position intentionally ignores the data which shows, even after controlling for crime rates, the NYPD still discriminates. It's very important that people interested in this case understand that. And as always, anyone who is interested in the case really needs to listen to This American Life's reporting on Officer Adrian Schoolcraft.

Expect the city to appeal.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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