Report: NYPD Continues to Discriminate Against Minorities

Protesting “Broken Windows” policing in 2014 (Photo by Caroline Lewis for Voices of NY)

Even though New York claims to be one of the most progressive and inclusive cities in the country, minorities continue to be more likely to be detained for minor offenses, according to a court monitoring report by the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) reviewed by El Diario. The paper, entitled “Injustice for Many: Four Years and More than 5,000 Cases Later,” is the last in a series of seven court monitoring reports in which the procedures carried out in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens criminal courts were observed and recorded. PROP representatives concluded that the NYPD continues to aggressively apply the practice known as “Broken Windows,” which imposes fines or arrests people for minor offenses such as drinking alcohol in public or smoking marijuana.

The document states that 565 out of 636 cases – 88.8 percent – observed over the course of 40 visits to courts made between October 2017 and June 2018 involved Hispanic and African-American New Yorkers. Of the defendants, 569 – 89.5 percent – were released. The four-year general report, which includes a follow-up of 5,162 cases presented between June 3, 2014 and June 21, 2018,  found that 4,645 – 90 percent – involved people of color.

Robert Gangi, director of PROP, said that these numbers reflect the old, deep-seated problem of “severe racial bias in NYPD tactics.”

“It is a painful irony that the people affected by Broken Windows are part of the political base of the city’s leaders, proud to call themselves progressive,” says Gangi.

(…)

“This report reflects that we still have a justice system that focuses on minor offenses that could often be handled in an alternative way,” said Juan Cartagena, president of LatinoJustice, who explained that the best way to change the culture in the NYPD is to allow police officers to stay longer in their positions so they are able to build bonds and understand the social context of the communities they serve.

Cartagena remembered that there is another problem related to drug possession, a situation that he believes is not being handled in the same way in white communities.

“The problem is more serious because it is systematic,” said Cartagena. “The reality is that we see officers dedicated to reviewing transactions in communities of color. They do not stop people in their vehicles downtown or in Bay Ridge. They stop Hispanics and African-Americans who are walking down the street in South Bronx or East New York.”

From the PROP report:

Offenses include: Littering, fare evasion, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, sleeping or taking two seats on the subway, trespassing (which may include being in a building without an identification,) ignoring park signage (that is, being in a park after hours,) low-level marijuana possession, selling loose cigarettes (“loosies.”)

Latinos are 65 percent more likely to be stopped or detained than whites.

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