Brooklyn Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke says Black elected officials in Central Brooklyn are feeling “somewhat vindicated” over a recent court ruling against the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk policy against Blacks and other minorities.
“We feel somewhat vindicated in our observations,” Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life in a year-end interview at her congressional office on Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn. “It snowballed into a national issue against stop-and-frisk.
“Good riddance!” she added, referring to ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who were severely criticized for enacting the policy.
“There’s no justification for what took place under the Bloomberg administration,” continued Clarke, stating that Bloomberg and Kelly “played a significant role in the election of Bill de Blasio as New York City mayor. Bloomberg underestimated how this will affect the election.”
The congresswoman said Black elected officials in Central Brooklyn had first “flagged the problem” and discussed it with Bloomberg and Kelly, but their pleas went on deaf ears.
She said the issue was also addressed with Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NCLU), who said that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices “raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights.”
Lieberman said an analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than four million times since 2002, and that Black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics.
She said nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, “according to the NYPD’s own reports.”
In November, the NCLU, National Action Network (NAN), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights groups called on New York State to “investigate the role the NYPD is playing in a series of incidents in which black shoppers have been targeted for stops, searches and arrests at city department stores,”
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the NCLU said it was “prepared to testify on the issue” at a hearing before the New York City Council.
In October, the state’s attorney general launched an investigation into security practices at Barneys and Macy’s after at least four customers came forward with allegations that they were unfairly targeted for police action while shopping in the stores.
Since that time, Barneys and Macy’s have denied that their employees summoned the NYPD to investigate the shoppers.
“If those statements are true, it is the NYPD that has primary responsibility for the aggressive tactics to which the shoppers were subjected, and it is the Police Department’s policies and practices that must be investigated,” Lieberman said.
In documenting what it described as the “unprecedented rise in discriminatory policing in New York City under the Bloomberg administration,” the NCLU in November also outlined reforms the de Blasio administration should adopt “to ensure that all New Yorkers can trust and respect the NYPD.”
The report, “Beyond Deliberate Indifference: An NYPD for All New Yorkers,” calls on the de Blasio administration to, among other things, strengthen NYPD oversight; reform the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk; create a culture of transparency in the NYPD; allow broader input into decisions about police policies; develop a comprehensive early warning system for police misconduct; improve street encounters between police and members of the public; and challenge the NYPD’s culture of bias-based profiling.
In addition, the NCLU said it is fighting a federal appeals court’s decision postponing the remedy proceedings in New York City’s stop-and-frisk abuse case.
The decision, issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, however, did not overturn the landmark ruling that the NYPD’s abuse of stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional.
“I am just looking forward to going forward with the new mayor, to foster a 21st century New York City that is more just, more fair, and looks to innovate and create opportunities for this new generation of young people, ” said Clarke about de Blasio, who had chaired her congressional campaign eight years ago.