Last year, a New York City judge declared stop-and-frisk law enforcement policies unconstitutional, yet the practice continues in other cities. Law enforcement officials say the laws make streets safer, but such policies have sparked cries of civil rights violations.
Daniel Bergner wrote about the issue for The Atlantic. "Of those waylaid in New York between 2004 and June 2012, 83 percent were black or Hispanic," he wrote.
More from his piece:
Judge [Shira A.] Scheindlin's ruling on racial bias is interesting because of the math it rejects and the math it embraces. Essentially, the NYPD made the case that the racial disparities in who gets stopped are due to the disparities in who commits crimes. The percentage of blacks and Hispanics stopped in New York turns out, in fact, to correspond to the city's percentage of black and Hispanic index-crime suspects. Many more blacks and Hispanics are naturally going to be questioned, the police maintain. "It's not racially driven profiling," DeMaio told me about Newark's practice. "It's crime-driven profiling."
But Darius Charney, the lead trial lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights' suit, looks at the issue very differently. Because 88 percent of the people stopped in New York were innocent, he says, the department was in effect arguing "that law-abiding black people are more suspicious--look more suspicious, behave more suspiciously--than law-abiding white people." Scheindlin's decision is grounded in this numerical proof of discrimination. The prejudice may not be willful or even conscious, but in the practice of stop-and-frisk, as Charney frames it, "race is a proxy for reasonable suspicion."
Bergner joins The Daily Circuit as we take an in-depth look at what he found during his reporting.
VIDEO: The Scars of Stop-and-Frisk (New York Times)