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Stop and Frisk enters the Federal Courtroom

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

Finally, the trial many New Yorkers and those who care about civil liberties, racial profiling and the criminal injustice system across the U.S. is underway in the New York City Federal Courthouse at Pearl Street.

Floyd et al, started yesterday, March 19th, 2013.

Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al. is a federal class action lawsuit filed against the New York City Police Department that charges the NYPD with engaging in racial profiling and suspicion-less stop-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents. According to CCR attorneys, the named plaintiffs in CCR’s case – David Floyd, David Ourlicht, Lalit Clarkson, and Deon Dennis – represent the thousands of New Yorkers who have been stopped without any cause on the way to work, in front of their house, or just walking down the street. CCR and the plaintiffs allege that the NYPD unlawfully stopped these individuals because they are men of color.

The Floyd case stems from CCR's landmark racial profiling case, Daniels, et al. v. City of New York, et al. that led to the disbanding of the infamous Street Crime Unit and a settlement with the City in 2003. The Daniels settlement agreement required the NYPD to maintain a written racial profiling policy that complies with the United States and New York State Constitutions and to provide stop-and-frisk data to CCR on a quarterly basis from the last quarter of 2003 through the first quarter of 2007. However, an analysis of the data revealed that the NYPD has continued to engage in suspicion-less and racially pretextual stop-and-frisks.

Floyd focuses not only on the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but also on the obvious racial disparities in who gets stopped and searched by the NYPD—90 percent of those stopped are Black and Latino, even though these two groups make up only 52 percent of the city’s population- which constitute a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The settlement agreement from Daniels required the NYPD to maintain a written racial profiling policy that complies with the U.S. and New York State Constitutions, required the NYPD audit officers who engage in stop-and-frisks and their supervisors to determine whether and to what extent the stop-and-frisks are based on reasonable suspicion and whether and to what extent the stop-and-frisks are being documented, and it required the NYPD to provide stop-and-frisk data to CCR on a quarterly basis, among other provisions.

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The Center for Constitutional Rights poster and information.

The trial will run Monday through Friday each week starting March 18, except for the week of March 25, when it will begin on Wednesday, March 27 and end at noon that Friday, March 29. Also trial will not be held on April 11 and 12th.
Trial will last about five – six weeks.

We advise for people to arrive at least 20 minutes in advance to allow time to go through courthouse security. Remember you will need to check your phone, camera, iPod and most electronic devices at the front desk with security since these items are not allowed inside the courthouse.

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David Floyd,  a medical student, shown here, led off the testimony yesterday, which will continue today.

In April 2007, Floyd said, he was stopped by three police officers who demanded his identification and then proceeded to pat him down from his groin to his ankle on both legs. Despite telling the officers that he did not consent to the search they went ahead, one using a finger to search in Floyd's pants.

The entire stop lasted no more than 10 minutes, but for Floyd it was a jarring experience. He said he felt "frustrated, humiliated -- because it was on my block where I live, and I wasn't doing anything." All he could think, he said, was that he wanted to get back to the safety of his home.

The second time, Floyd said, even his home wasn't safe. In February 2008, he said, he was stopped as he helped a locked-out neighbor use a spare set of keys to enter a ground-floor apartment.

"Before we could go in, we were stopped," Floyd said. The officers started to search him, again patting him down from his groin to his ankles, and again without his permission.

"It was again the humiliation," Floyd said. But this time, he added, "it wasn't down the block, it wasn't in another neighborhood. It was on the property that I lived on."

"I felt that I was being told I shouldn't leave my home," he said.

The case is being tried in front of Shira A. Scheindlin, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. There is no jury, which she world have preferred.
“It’s not a verdict of the community and I thought that would have been helpful for a case like this.” Last May, Scheindlin said there was “overwhelming evidence” thousands of stop-and-frisks were unlawful when she decided to grant the lawsuit class action status.
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Scheindlin, was nominated to the Federal Bench by President Bill Clinton, on July 28, 1994.  She has already issued rulings on a case which is related to the one in front of her.
Judge Orders NYPD to Limit Trespass Searches

Police officers are violating the Fourth Amendment rights of people stopped on suspicion of trespass as they walk into and out of privately owned buildings that participate in a Bronx anti-crime program, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin (See Profile) issued a preliminary injunction ordering police "immediately to cease performing trespass stops" without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass at thousands of buildings whose owners have given police permission to patrol their property pursuant to the Trespass Affidavit Program, or TAP.
"I conclude that plaintiffs have shown a clear likelihood of proving that defendants have displayed deliberate indifference toward a widespread practice of unconstitutional trespass stops by the NYPD outside of TAP buildings in the Bronx," Scheindlin said in Ligon v. City of New York, 12-cv-2274.

"In sum, while it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx," Scheindlin said. "For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of friends and families, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat."

Though many of you reading this are aware of the ongoing protests against NYC's draconian stop and frisk practices, please help ensure that the following videos get wider distribution.


Stop and Frisk Documentary

New York's blatantly discriminatory practices have been well documented by both the CCR and the UCLU. Leading up to this case the CCR issued this report on Racial Disparity in NYCPD Stops-and-Frisks  in 2008. The ACLU's NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Activity in 2011 (2012), is also online, as is a phone appwhich citizens can download to report police activity.

Brown, Black Blue (CCR)


In this 2010 video from ABC news, police officer Adhyll (Adil) Polanco, who will be testifying in the Stop and Frisk proceedings talked about pressures on him and other officers to fill quotas:

"Our primary job is not to help anybody, our primary job is not to assist anybody, our primary job is to get those numbers and come back with them" said Officer Polanco.
In 2010, the Village Voice won the New York Press Club's Gold Keyboard award for investigative reporting. Their series, written by Graham Rayman, was the The NYPD Tapes, and they have continued ongoing coverage on their Runnin' Scared blog.
The series was based on digital recordings made in secret by Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft in the 81st Precinct in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Schoolcraft wore a digital recorder for two years in the precinct, with the intent of documenting things he thought needed to be changed.

In October, 2009, Just three weeks after Schoolcraft met for three hours with department investigators, police came to his home and forcibly took him to the psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital where he was held against his will for six days, and then released without explanation

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The NYPD Tapes are a stunning look at the internal pressures on police officers to fill quotas. The ensuing retaliation against police officer Schoolcraft, who provided the tapes, has also been well documented, and he too will be a part of the trial proceedings.  

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Queens DA Richard Brown has just been subpoenaed by Schoolcraft's lawyers, who is suing the NYPD.

I was encouraged to read in the Voice that trial will also serve a a venue to educate young people.  

Major Stop and Frisk Trial Begins: Harlem Mom Takes 14-year-old Son to Watch Opening Statements

Iusaset Bakr tells the Voice that she took her Jaihdow Kwantu out of school for the day and brought him to the opening of the trial in Floyd v. City of New York to educate him about police tactics in minority neighborhoods.

"I made a decision so that he could be equipped with the information," she says. "I wanted him to witness it for himself because he needs to be aware of what's happening and of what his rights are. This is happening so much that the children seem to think it's okay, when it's not okay."

Jaihdow tells the Voice that even at his young age, he has already been stopped twice by police in his neighborhood. One time, he says it was for playfully chasing a friend of his with a ruler. "I just wanted to see first hand what's happening," he says.

Their report of the first days testimony covered opening statements by the lawyers and the witnesses and the city's response.
In their opening statements, Darius Charney, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, noted that 85 percent of those stopped were black and Latino, while the citywide population for those groups is just 50 percent. Nine of 10 stops resulted in no charges. There has been a "deliberately indifferent failure" by the NYPD to stop "unconstitutional behavior."

The city's lawyers, meanwhile, spent quite a bit of time attacking academic research underpinning the allegation that there is a racial bias in the stops. That research was done by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Fagan. "The results are biased and unreliable," a city attorney told the court.
...

The first witness to testify was 16-year-old Devin Almonor, a West Harlem resident who aspires to a career in medicine and whose father is a retired 12-year veteran of the NYPD. When he was just 13, Almonor was stopped in 2010 while crossing a street near his home by two cops in an unmarked vehicle.
"They kept asking me how old I was, and for my ID," he testified. "They put me against their car and started patting my down in front of everyone. They handcuffed me and took me to the station without telling me why. I was crying. One of the officers told me I was crying like a little girl, and said if my dad was a cop, he should just come and get me."
The second witness, David Floyd, a 33-year-old graduate of Syracuse University now studying medicine, testified that he was stopped twice. He described the stops as "frustrating and humiliating." The city's lawyer, Morgan Kunz, tried to portray Floyd as an activist.

They reported that Adhyll Polanco, the young Latino whistle-blowing police officer seen in the ABC news video above, will be testifying this afternoon.

Kudos to the officers who have broken the blue wall of science, the attorneys who have taken on this case to protect our citizens and to the community activists who have been fighting this policy since its inception.

And let us not forget about the importance of judicial appointments. Judge Scheindlin has made it clear, in her previous rulings, that she is not going rubber-stamp the voices of police brass as "truth" and she won't ignore the preponderance of evidence which points to a policy of discrimination.

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                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

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Lisa Jackson—the Environmental Protection Agency’s first black administrator and its loudest trumpet for environmental justice—unceremoniously left her post in mid-February. Those who deeply value Jackson’s stated commitment to protecting people of color say her successor will have big shoes to follow. ColorLines: Will EPA’s ‘Environmental Justice’ Outlast Lisa Jackson?
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“So often our policy makers and administrators make decisions without enough awareness of the consequences inflicted on communities outside their own, particularly those without traditional sources of power,” says Sarah Hope, executive director of the Alliance for Climate Education. “We can do much better. Lisa Jackson did.”

Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, Jackson made clear from jump that the agency’s priority would be ensuring that people of color and low-income neighborhoods aren’t disproportionately burdened with waste and pollution.

With that agenda, her EPA raised car and truck fuel standards, making it uncool and soon unlawful for car companies to create Hummer-esque gas guzzlers. To mitigate climate change, Jackson’s EPA also exercised its U.S. Supreme Court-ordained authority to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

Predictably, right-wing politicians and business heads targeted her early and often. Last year, Republican Congressmen and presidential candidates even went as far as to suggest shuttering the EPA altogether.

“Part of Lisa Jackson’s legacy is the fear she put in the executives of polluting companies,” says Monique Harden, co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights. “She single-handedly re-directed the EPA from playing footsie with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce back to the job of ensuring environmental justice for communities of color and poor communities harmed by hazardous industrial operations.”


Lisa Jackson faces the House Agriculture Committee during a March 10, 2011 hearing on the impact of EPA greenhouse gas regulations on agribusiness. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

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Uneku Atawodi is the only black woman in the world playing the game professionally - and she usually draws quite a crowd. The Guardian: The black, female polo player changing perceptions in 'sport of kings'.
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When Uneku Atawodi told her parents in her home of Nigeria that she wanted to be a professional polo player at the age of 16, they advised her to steer away from such an unconventional career path. First they tried talking her out if it. Then they stopped paying for the upkeep of her horses.

Undeterred, Atawodi convinced managers at England's Epsom Club to give her a job mucking out stables – "basically packing horse shit," she explains. Waking up at dawn, wearing double gloves to stop the shovels shredding her skin, it was a far cry from her comfortable upbringing, which revolved around the local polo club in the northern Nigeria capital of Kaduna.

A decade later, Atawodi is the only black woman in the world who plays professionally. "When people say: 'Oh, I didn't know black people play,' I understand that it is new and different to people. I'm happy to patiently explain to them the diverse and expanding world of polo," the 25-year-old says after a meal in an upmarket bar she runs in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

While she says she has never experienced racism in a sport synonymous with European royalty, surprise can lead to amusing encounters. Once, at a game in Argentina – the birthplace of the modern game – she approached an assistant handing out the team jerseys. "I asked her, 'What colour am I?' She gave me the yellow top and replied, 'You're black.'

She apologised, and later told me that it was not because I was black, but because she was so shocked to see a black girl playing," Atawodi said in an interview last year.



Uneku Atawodi is part of a wave of growing interest in polo in Nigeria. Photograph: Mark Bolles

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Pres. Obama is slated for dinner with Yityish Aynaw, the 1st black Miss Israel. Your Black World: Pres. Obama Slated for Dinner With Black Miss Israel.
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Ethiopian-born Yityish Aynaw is about to experience one of many unforgettable moments as the first black Miss Israel: Dining with President Obama. The African beauty was invited by Pres. Obama’s staff to a gala dinner honoring him hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Thursday. It is the president’s first visit to the country as President of the United States.

The beauty queen told reporters, “I have butterflies in my stomach.” She reminisced on her troubled past: “Ten years ago, I was walking around barefoot in Ethiopia and I never imagined that one day I would be in the land of Israel, meeting the Israeli president and the president of the United States. I could never have imagined such a powerful and exciting situation.” The young woman has truly overcome tragedy after tragedy ever since she was a toddler.


                       
                                   Yityish Aynaw, Miss Israel

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Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim served two months for talking to Lul Ali Osman Barake who claimed rape by men in military fatigue. The Guardian: Judge releases Somali journalist jailed for interviewing alleged rape victim.
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A Somali journalist jailed for interviewing an alleged gang-rape victim spoke of his relief on Sunday after a judge ordered his release.

Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim had been sentenced to a year in prison, later reduced to six months, for talking to Lul Ali Osman Barake about her claim that she was raped by five men in military fatigues.

"I am happy today like the day I was born," Ibrahim, 25, told the Guardian as he was transported in a four-wheel drive vehicle from Mogadishu central prison to his home.

The case has prompted international condemnation over how Somalia's fledgling institutions approach victims of sexual violence and freedom of the press.

Barake had also been sentenced to a year in prison but this was quashed on appeal.

After her release Barake spoke of her anger with the police and courts over the way she had been treated. "I was a victim and I was given a one-year jail term. No female victim in Somalia will feel able to talk about this. Rape victims will stay silent in their home and not tell anyone," she told the Guardian.



People rejoice with Somali journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim (right) in Mogadishu following his release from prison. Photograph: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty

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Georgia Tech alumnas find a way to solve the trial and error process of testing black hair care products and styles. Black Enterprise: Tech Startup of The Week: Techturized Wins With Hair Care Company.
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Three of the four Techturized co-founders, Candace Mitchell, 25; Jess Watson, 22; and Chanel Martin, 28, presented eloquently as they described their target: African-American women, who make up just 6% of the population, but drive 33% of sales in the U.S. hair care industry.

The judges unanimously voted for Techturized,  a hair care technology company that incorporates science and technology to revolutionize the way women interact with their hair, over their competitors, citing their polished presentation, which was laden with information pertinent to their target market, as a strong sell. The Techturized personalized hair care platform, MadamYou.com, will give women custom recommendations for their hair type and lifestyle.

“I couldn’t have been happier to have been exposed to all three teams,” says Ty Ahmad-Taylor, head of SmartTV services at Samsung Electronics, and one of the BiT Business Pitch Judges. “The winning group provided four key elements in any pitch: the problem that they were solving, the size of the market opportunity, a smart team with appropriate backgrounds and enthusiasm, and a proposed solution within realistic time frames.”



Techturized founders, Candace Mitchell, Chanel Martin, Joy Buolamwini, and Jess Watson try to eliminate the trial and error for women of color who are searching to find hair styles and products that fit their lifestyles.

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Judge for yourself. Talking Point Memo: ‘Bible’ Producers Call Obama-Satan Comparisons ‘Utter Nonsense’
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 The producers of the cable TV miniseries on the Bible say Internet chatter that their Satan character resembles President Barack Obama is “utter nonsense.”

Mark Burnett and Roma Burnett said Monday the Moroccan actor who played Satan in the History channel series, Mehdi Ouzaani, has played Satanic characters in other Biblical programs long before Obama was elected president.

The connection got widespread attention after talk show host Glenn Beck last week tweeted: “Does Satan look EXACTLY like Obama? Yes!”

History said in a statement that the network has “the highest respect” for Obama, and that “it’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection.”

“Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our president, who is a fellow Christian,” said Downey, the “Touched By an Angel” actress who is married to Burnett. “False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of the Bible.”



Talking Point Memo

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Voices and Soul

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by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

From 47th Street in Chicago, to Lenox Avenue in New York, to Rampart Street in New Orleans, from Fremont Street in San Francisco and Grand Avenue in Oakland, to the Rue de Parnasse in Paris and then the Spanish Steps in Rome; to any street, boulevard and avenue anywhere and any place in the world, to the bedrooms and kitchens, to the backyards and front porches, from the side paths and dark alleys, from the sunlit empty lots of a foreclosed present day, to the dusty cotton fields of a bleeding past; a people raise a voice to an unseen heaven; and a song of humanity resounds across the seas and lands.

For My People

For my people everywhere singing their slave songs
     repeatedly: their dirges and their ditties and their blues
     and jubilees, praying their prayers nightly to an
     unknown god, bending their knees humbly to an
     unseen power;

For my people lending their strength to the years, to the
    gone years and the now years and the maybe years,
    washing ironing cooking scrubbing sewing mending
    hoeing plowing digging planting pruning patching
    dragging along never gaining never reaping never
    knowing and never understanding;

For my playmates in the clay and dust and sand of Alabama
    backyards playing baptizing and preaching and doctor
    and jail and soldier and school and mama and cooking
    and playhouse and concert and store and hair and
    Miss Choomby and company;

For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn
    to know the reasons why and the answers to and the
    people who and the places where and the days when, in
    memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we
    were black and poor and small and different and nobody
    cared and nobody wondered and nobody understood;

For the boys and girls who grew in spite of these things to
    be man and woman, to laugh and dance and sing and
    play and drink their wine and religion and success, to
    marry their playmates and bear children and then die
    of consumption and anemia and lynching;

For my people thronging 47th Street in Chicago and Lenox
    Avenue in New York and Rampart Street in New
    Orleans, lost disinherited dispossessed and happy
    people filling the cabarets and taverns and other
    people’s pockets and needing bread and shoes and milk and
    land and money and something—something all our own;

For my people walking blindly spreading joy, losing time
     being lazy, sleeping when hungry, shouting when
     burdened, drinking when hopeless, tied, and shackled
     and tangled among ourselves by the unseen creatures
     who tower over us omnisciently and laugh;

For my people blundering and groping and floundering in
     the dark of churches and schools and clubs
     and societies, associations and councils and committees and
     conventions, distressed and disturbed and deceived and
     devoured by money-hungry glory-craving leeches,
     preyed on by facile force of state and fad and novelty, by
     false prophet and holy believer;

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way
    from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding,
    trying to fashion a world that will hold all the people,
    all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
    bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
    generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
    loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of
    healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing
    in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs
    be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now
    rise and take control.

(November 1937)

-- Margaret Walker

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Welcome to the Front Porch

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Originally posted to Black Kos community on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, LatinoKos, and J Town.

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