Marking the 10th Anniversary of Landmark "Stop-and-Frisk" Trial

10 Years Ago this Week, We Went to Court to Expose the Racism of the NYPD and Stop-and-Frisk in New York City

Historic Trial Begins March 18, 2013

Ten years ago this week, we embarked on a historic 9-week trial against the New York City police department for its racist and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices. On March 18, 2013, our team stepped into an overflowing courtroom, packed with New Yorkers: family members, community organizers, and many others seeking to hold the NYPD accountable for decades of abuse. Together with our partners at Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), which organized broad multi-faceted advocacy campaigns against the NYPD, the court remained filled each and every day of trial, as the judge heard powerful testimony from our clients Dasaw Floyd, Lalit Clarkson, David Ourlicht, Deon Dennis , nd other courageous witnesses who had been directly impacted by stop and frisk. Throughout the trial we revealed the NYPD as an institution steeped in white supremacy, incompetence, mis-management, and an “ends justify the means” ethic. In a historic ruling, in August 2013, we won a landmark decision that found the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices to be racially discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. 

Very Brief History of CCR’s Work Challenging Racist and Unlawful NYPD Practices

In 1999, following the horrific murder of Amadou Diallo by police in the Bronx, longtime NYC organizer Richie Perez mobilized lawyers and community organizers across the city to expose the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) unconstitutional practice of stop-and-frisk, which overwhelmingly targeted Black and Latinx New Yorkers. Mass mobilizations together with strategic litigation (Daniels et. al. v. City of New York) resulted in a settlement with the City in 2003 and succeeded in disbanding the NYPD’s most notorious Street Crime Unit, which incuded the officers who had killed Amadou Diallo. When the data required by the Daniels settlement revealed that the NYPD had not only continued to engage in but ramped up the number of stop-and-frisks of Black and Brown New Yorkers, CCR and co-counsel filed Floyd v. City of New York, a class-action lawsuit alleging the NYPD was continuing its racist policing practices. At the same time, impacted community members, including a coalition of over 100 grassroots, legal, and policy groups -- Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) -- began broad multi-faceted advocacy campaigns against NYPD abuses. In August 2013 after a nine-week trial in which CPR members packed the courtroom each day, CCR won a landmark ruling that found the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices to be racially discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. 

The Floyd Case and Work Continues Today

The historic victory in 2013, however, did not stop the NYPD and its lawyers from fighting against the changes and reforms ordered by the Court. Since 2014, the NYPD has been under a court-ordered “monitorship,” which continues today. While the overall number of reported stops in NYC has dramatically dropped since 2013 and new procedures have been implemented, the monitorship is at best a containment strategy and cannot itself achieve an end to racist policing. Indeed, the latest report by the court-mandated monitor indicated that there was both widespread underreporting of stops and that Black and Brown New Yorkers continued to be the most targeted. Recognizing the need to escalate the campaign against the inherent racism of and vast public investment in law enforcement, community organizations such as CPR are working to dramatically reduce the bloated NYPD budget, demanding that the city change course and instead invest public resources in critical housing, mental health, education and legal services as well as access to public benefits, public libraries, police-oversight, and other critical public infrastructure. 

On February 24, 2023, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) and the Center for Constitutional Rights submitted a report to the UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement (UN EMLER) urging it to support a growing movement for the abolition of the prison industrial complex, the reordering of society necessary to account for historical injustices and guarantee safety of Africans and people of African descent.

Resources & Links

We’ve compiled resources from the trial here, including:

Selected Media Coverage:

Last modified 

March 17, 2023