A Verdict on Racial Profiling?

A judge has ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional and racist. But will it stop?

A federal judge‘s ruling has finally affirmed what activists in New York City have been saying for years: The New York City Police Department (NYPD) policy of “stop-and-frisk” is legalized racial profiling and harassment. The long-awaited decision came in response to a lawsuit by eight plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk. But more fundamentally, it was the product of an activist movement that has for years highlighted the racist implications of this policy. The longstanding campaign to stop “stop-and-frisk” gained new momentum in the aftermath of high profile cases of police brutality and murder.

In February of 2012, unarmed African American teenager Ramarley Graham was gunned down in his bathroom by NYPD officers claiming they saw a gun in the waistband of his pants. This case helped to mobilize thousands of New Yorkers to take to the streets more than a year ago to oppose the policy. The murder of Trayvon Martin just days after Ramarley's death sparked a national discussion about the perils of racial profiling and the impact on young African-American men. All of this contributed to an atmosphere where stop-and-frisk could no longer go unchallenged.

According to a report by the Center for Constitutional Rights, between 2004 and 2012, more than 4 million people were stopped, and in less than 6 percent of those stops was an arrest made. More than 80 percent of those 4 million people were African American or Latino, raising the cry from those communities that stop-and-frisk was officially sanctioned racial profiling.

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