(New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks about stop and frisk while Police Commissioner Ray Kelly looks on during a news conference in New York, Monday, Aug. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig))

Federal courts block New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy, Latino legislators react

In New York City, a federal appeals court on Thursday blocked a judge’s order requiring changes to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program and removed the judge from the case.

Pending the outcome of an appeal by the city, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the decisions of the Judge, Shira Scheindlin, will be stayed.

Last summer, Judge ruled that New York violated the Constitution in the way it carried out its “stop and frisk” program of stopping and questioning people. The judge had ruled that police officers violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic me, and had appointed a monitor to oversee changes.  Under independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the stops had increased to an all-time high 684,330 in 2011, mostly of black and Hispanic men.  In 2004, a group of  men, all minorities, filed a lawsuit, and it became a class action case.

The judge did not put an end to stop-and-frisk but had mandated changes in the way it was conducted.

The city appealed her findings.  On Thursday, the appeals court said the judge needed to be removed from the case because she did not follow the code of conduct for U.S. judges, partly because gave some media interviews and public statements responding publicly to criticism of the court.

New York state senator Adriano Espaillat criticized the Circuit Court of Appeal’s reversal, saying: “While August’s ruling offered closure to the hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino New Yorkers who have been unfairly stopped and frisked, the 2nd Circuit’s decision to stall and imperil urgent social justice reforms is disappointing and short-sighted. Under the counsel of a special monitor, our City was on the cusp of achieving progressive change we have spent years fighting for. As this legal process continues, we must continue to push for legislative and executive policy changes to end the use of tactics that have instilled bitter resentment in the Black and Latino community, and harmed young people who have done nothing wrong.”

Similarly, New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, “When the Democratic Mayoral candidate who has made his opposition of stop and frisk a central point of his campaign, is polling at such high margins; when the legislative body of the City of New York has passed legislation aimed to curb stop and frisk; and when a Federal Court Judge has ruled against the practice of stop and frisk on a constitutional basis; it is beyond clear that fighting for this tactic is a lost cause. New Yorkers just will not stand for racial profiling and unconstitutional search and seizures.”

RELATED: Judge rules controversial NY ‘stop and frisk’ policy violates Latinos’ civil rights

RELATED: Opinion: New York City’s stop-and-frisk program is overdue for reform

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