We want our city back: What's at stake in the Floyd v. City of New York trial

ANNETTE DICKERSON | 3/18/2013, 11:36 a.m.

One vision is of a city where everyday, thousands of people are pre-emptively assumed to be suspects, stopped for things like "furtive movements" or "wearing clothes commonly used in a crime"-- both actual categories on the form police fill out for every stop, whereby "furtive movements" is far and away the most commonly cited reason. It's a city in which police-community relations will continue to deteriorate as police treat their fellow New Yorkers not like neighbors but like intruders in their own communities. It's a city in which young people, Black and Brown people, gay and transgender people and others will be fearful every time they step out of their homes, will make sure they are carrying ID even if they're only going to the corner to buy a quart of milk and will flinch every time a police cruiser goes by. A city where parents teach their children how to safely survive a stop-and-frisk on their way to school.

The other vision is of a city where the problems and abuses of stop-and-frisk are acknowledged and collaboratively addressed. It's a city where New Yorkers' constitutional rights are not violated every day. A New York where the NYPD partners with communities instead of harassing them and improves public safety through mutually respectful community ties. A New York where all people can walk down the street without fear of being illegally stopped.

This is the New York that Floyd v. City of New York can help bring about. Change is not only necessary--it's also possible. The best way to reform the NYPD and end illegal stops and frisks is through a comprehensive, collaborative process that brings all the stakeholders to the table to hammer out the specific remedies needed. That is what we hope to do through Floyd.

Annette Dickerson is director of education and outreach at the Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org). To read more about the case, visit http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/floyd-et-al.