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More NYPD Racial Profiling in 2014?

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By Saeed Shabazz
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call

NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – “People are angry, they feel betrayed by mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, and we intend to follow him around the city wherever we can find him until he hears our complaints concerning stopping ‘stop and frisk,’” anti-police brutality activist Juanita Young told The Final Call.

Days before his victory in November, Mr. de Blasio reportedly stated at a press conference: “I’ve been saying for a long time. We need to get to reforming stop and frisk and bringing police and community together. And further delay is not going to help the city heal and move forward.”

However Dec. 15 Mr. de Blasio, known as a progressive politician, announced the appointment of stop and frisk innovator William Bratton as police chief. Mr. Bratton served in the same capacity in NYC from 1994 to 1996.

“De Blasio is a pseudo-progressive, a pragmatic, opportunistic politician,” argued Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron (D). Bringing in Bratton, the architect of this “racial profiling” policy is an “insult” a “slap in the face,” the council member told The Final Call. “It is business as usual in NYC,” he added.

According to an analysis released in May by the NY Civil Liberties Union, 532,911 New Yorkers were stopped in 2012—a 22 percent drop from 2011. The NYCLU study noted that 9 out of 10 stopped were innocent and 88 percent of those stopped were Black and Latino and 10 percent were White. Blacks and Latinos comprise 54 percent of the city’s population. The NYPD, according to the NYCLU, defended the policy saying it was keeping streets safe.

“Bratton had a chance—he let his police officers brutalize and kill us—he has blood on his hands,” Councilman Barron said.

The Final Call made contact with Mr. de Blasio’s media team by phone and e-mail, however, there was no response to requests for interviews.

Some say stop and frisk issue is in a procedural tangle given current Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s insistence on appealing a decision by a federal judge, who ruled the NYPD policy systematically violated the 4th amendment and 14th amendment rights of thousands of Black and Latino New Yorkers, and said the court should appoint a monitor to keep watch on how the police make stops.

A three-judge panel representing the Second Court of Appeals put the ruling of Judge Schira Scheindlin on hold in early November, and removed her from the case, saying she had “run afoul” of judicial conduct by failing to appear impartial.

In December, Mayor Bloomberg ordered city attorneys to file a merit brief that will be heard in March 2014 and asks for the entire case to be overturned. Mr. de Blasio has said he would not appeal the federal court’s decision.

On Dec. 16, Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists published a report. It calls for New police commissioner Bratton committing to delivering both safety and respect to all New Yorkers by enforcing a zero tolerance policy for police brutality, especially shootings and the killing of unarmed New Yorkers. It also asks the incoming administration discontinue legal challenges to the federal stop and frisk ruling, and work cooperatively with the court-appointed monitor to ensure remedies include a meaningful role for impacted communities.

“You cannot stop stop and frisk, it is the root of policing,” argued Damon Jones of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Policing policy must stop marginalizing Blacks and Latinos, Mr. Jones toldThe Final Call.

“The dilemma for de Blasio and Bratton going forward is how the nation’s largest police department will react to the necessary changes that must be implemented such as disciplining officers who don’t follow the new policies,” Mr. Jones said.

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