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Hands Off!: Black community responds to U.S. District Court ruling of NYPD's "Clean Halls" as unconstitutional

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman expressed satisfaction with the results.

"Today's decision is a major step toward dismantling the NYPD's stop-and-frisk regime," said Lieberman in a statement. "Operation Clean Halls has placed New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino, under siege in their own homes in thousands of apartment buildings. This aggressive assault on people's constitutional rights must be stopped."

Under stop and frisk's overall policy, 684,330 people were stopped and interrogated in 2011, which was a 14 percent increase from 2010. Of those stopped and interrogated, 92 percent were men and 87 percent were either black or Hispanic. It's a fact that's not lost on National Action Network President and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton.

A vocal opponent against the NYPD's stop and frisk policy, Sharpton said that the ruling was nice. But it's just a start.

"A Bronx Judge's ruling today that the NYPD must cease the practice of stop-and-frisk policing outside of private buildings in the Bronx because it is unconstitutional, is a step in the right direction to having New Yorkers not be characterized as guilty until proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty," said Sharpton. It has been our contention that Judges ought to address this policy that is in effect based on race and location---in some location one becomes an automatic suspect while in others automatic citizens and that is a true violation of people's civil rights."

New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams cited his experience in working with tenants when it came to his approval of the ruling.

"As a former tenant organizer, I actually support the existence of programs like Clean Halls which promote a stronger relationship between communities and the police and make tenants feel safer," said Williams in a statement. "However, because of the NYPD's overzealous behavior, trust has degraded to the point that it is difficult to discern worthwhile initiatives."

McGregor Smyth, of The Bronx Defenders hoped that this ruling would force the NYPD to look collectively in the mirror and reassess their practices and how they affect the residents of places like the Bronx.

"Today, the Court recognized that thousands of Bronx residents are under siege in their homes - not by crime, but by a Police Department that is out of control," said Smyth "The NYPD now must end this illegal and abusive dragnet once and for all."