Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit Bumped Up to Class-Action Status

By
New York Police Department officers walk along a street in Lower Manhattan March 18, 2012 in New York.
Photo: Stan Honda /AFP/Getty Images

A lawsuit alleging that the NYPD unfairly targets people of color with its stop-and-frisk program will be allowed to proceed as a class-action suit, a Federal District Court judge ruled today, taking the opportunity to throw some jabs at the city. The huge disparity in the races of those stopped and searched on the street is very public at this point, but the four plaintiffs whose case has been winding its way through courts since 2008 can now be joined by many, many more. "The vast majority of New Yorkers who are unlawfully stopped will never bring suit to vindicate their rights," said Judge Shira Scheindlin. She didn't stop there.

Of the department's claim that a legal injunction against stop-and-frisks would be "the kind of judicial intrusion into a social institution that is disfavored," the judge said the NYPD showed "a deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers' most fundamental constitutional rights." She added that if the police are "engaging in a widespread practice of unlawful stops, then an injunction seeking to curb that practice is not a 'judicial intrusion into a social institution,' but a vindication of the Constitution and an exercise of the courts' most important function: protecting individual rights in the face of the government’s malfeasance."

Ray Kelly's comment for the day? "It is what it is."