Critics of the New York Police Department's stop, question and frisk policy rallied in front of the federal courthouse in Manhattan after a judge heard key testimony in a class action lawsuit that seeks to reform the contentious crime reduction strategy.
Among the critics was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who told those gathered in Foley Square that systemic forms of discrimination exist across the country.
"Those who stand today give voice to a national crisis," Jackson said. "There's nothing more painful than to be a victim of something you can’t do nothing about — the color of your skin."
Groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, LatinoJustice, VOCAL-NY, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and others were represented at the rally in support of the class action lawsuit filed against the city for its continued use of stop-and-frisk.
Trial in the case, Floyd et al. v. the City of New York, began in the Southern District of New York hours before.
The plaintiffs want a court-appointed monitor to oversee reforms of stop-and-frisk.
"To be clear, we are not trying to stop the police department from stopping crime," said Vincent Warren, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the four men who filed the lawsuit in 2008. "What we’re trying to do is we are making sure that the police department complies with the law. The Constitution requires reasonable and articulable stops in order to stop people, and the police is not doing this with their program of massive stop and frisks."
Warren was joined by political and advocacy leaders at the podium, including City Council members Jumaane Williams, Letitia James, Ydanis Rodriguez, Gale Brewer, Brad Lander and Melissa Mark-Viverito. Comptroller John Liu was the lone mayoral candidate to make an appearance.
"When you read about almost 700,000 people in one year, in one city being stopped almost all of whom have done nothing wrong, it kind of feels like you’re reading about some third world dictatorship," Liu said at the event. "There’s no denying that this is racial profiling going on here, and it’s got to stop."