A federal judge on Wednesday granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics, saying she was disturbed by the city’s “deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights.”
The decision by the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, of Federal District Court, (see also below) provides possible legal recourse for hundreds of thousands of people who have been caught up in the department’s increasingly vigorousstop-and-frisk practice, which critics say unjustly ensnares blacks and Latinos.
Over the weekend, the police disclosed that they had made more than 200,000 such stops in the first three months of 2012, placing the Bloomberg administration on course for the largest number of annual stops in the 10 years the department has been measuring them.
In granting class-action status to the case, which was filed in January 2008 by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of four plaintiffs, the judge wrote that she was giving voice to the voiceless.
“The vast majority of New Yorkers who are unlawfully stopped will never bring suit to vindicate their rights,” Judge Scheindlin wrote.
“[D]eeply troubling apathy” indeed.