Last Friday, August 12, marked the third anniversary of the historic ruling in Floyd v. City of New York, in which a federal court ruled the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices unconstitutional and racially discriminatory. At the time, fear-mongering apologists for the NYPD predicted mayhem and violence if the massive violations of Black and brown New Yorkers’ rights did not continue.
How times have changed. “We were wrong,” a Daily News editorial headline said last Monday, admitting that crime continued to decline at the same time that the number of stops and frisks went down. The New York Times went a step further, on Wednesday calling for an end to the “broken windows” policing theory that has underlain the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices for more than two decades. Citing CCR’s case, its editorial also said, “Three years of falling crime has proved the critics of stop and frisk right.”
A scathing report from the Department of Justice on the Baltimore Police Department, also released last week, cited the same kind of systemic discrimination baked into that city’s “zero tolerance” policing policies. The report “comes as no surprise,” CCR Executive Director Vince Warren noted in a statement, calling for “structural changes that shift police accountability… towards greater community control.”
Across the U.S., recognition is growing that the effects of broken windows, zero tolerance policing practices have been devastating to Black, brown and other historically marginalized communities, and deadly for many people in those communities.
Of course Black and brown people suffering under these policing practices have been pointing out their harmful effects for decades. While reports like the DOJ’s on Baltimore’s policing are welcome, they are years overdue. When complaints from marginalized communities are, well, marginalized, it can take a mass movement—in this case the Movement for Black Lives and other similar grassroots racial justice and police accountability campaigns—to force media, government, and those who are blissfully unaware of such policing practices to pay attention. Let this be a lesson to all--listen to the people best poised to understand the effects of policies and practices: those living with the effects of them. That’s why CCR pushed for and won community input as a central feature of the court-ordered reform process in Floyd.
As those who have followed Floyd know, the work of actually reforming NYPD practices is a long and difficult process with countless steps that we’ve reported on periodically. Last week, the survey seeking public input on the departmental policy that will govern the use of body-worn cameras by NYPD officers during the upcoming year-long court-ordered pilot program concluded, and the monitor filed his most recent status report, detailing proposed changes to the size and scope of the pilot. The NYPD will prepare a public response to the survey data, which should be available sometime this fall.
Also anticipated for this fall are the launch of public events to elicit New Yorkers’ feedback on additional reforms to be made to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. These are part of the Joint Remedial Process ordered by the court, which has been underway for several months now under the supervision of the court-appointed facilitator. We long advocated for such a process, building on the work of our allies across the U.S. in ensuring meaningful opportunities for input by affected communities.
Stay tuned! If you want additional updates on the Joint Remedial Process, sign up here.