Stop-and-Frisk Ruling: Winners and Losers

New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(The Root) — On Monday a federal judge ruled that the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk program, which disproportionately targets young men of color, violates the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. The ruling requires that an outside monitor be appointed to ensure that going forward, the NYPD's practices are compliant with constitutional protections.


While civil rights activists celebrate the ruling, it will result in unfortunate political fallout for some. Below, a look at the winners and losers from the ruling.

Loser: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had emerged as stop and frisk's most vocal cheerleader, championing it before anyone who would listen, including critics. The mayor went so far as to insinuate that the policy was not discriminatory enough, saying this in an interview:

There is this business, there's one newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, "Oh, it's a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group." That may be, but it's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.

A federal judge disagreed, leading the mayor to have an apparent tantrum at a press conference when asked about the ruling. His defense of stop and frisk will be a permanent black eye on Bloomberg's legacy, one that he will likely come to regret. Much the way many Southern legislators eventually became embarrassed to have been on the wrong side of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, Mike Bloomberg will one day be embarrassed by having been on the wrong side of stop and frisk.

Winner: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

De Blasio is currently locked in an incredibly close race for the Democratic mayoral nomination in New York. In a stroke of lucky timing, his campaign happened to launch an ad in which de Blasio's biracial son (de Blasio is white and his wife is black) hails his father's fight to end stop and frisk. De Blasio has one of the most progressive positions on the issue, vowing to end the practice and supporting two council bills aimed at reining in the practice, including one that would create the position of inspector general to monitor and supervise the NYPD on this issue. With the federal judge ruling in favor of such a requirement, de Blasio just got a major credibility boost on the issue.

Loser: Bill Thompson, Former Comptroller and Candidate for Mayor

The only African-American candidate in the race, Thompson generated a great deal of coverage and support for his impassioned speech invoking the Trayvon Martin tragedy as proof that racial profiling must end. But Thompson, who has been endorsed by some law-enforcement unions, has opposed a council bill that would create an inspector general to provide oversight of the NYPD on the issue, a fact that has provided an opening for his opponents. With only a few points separating him and de Blasio, according to the latest polls, today's stop-and-frisk ruling could be a turning point.


Winner: Communities of Color

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union:

Young black and Latino men were the targets of a hugely disproportionate number of stops. Though they account for only 4.7 percent of the city's population, black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 40.6 percent of stops in 2012. The number of stops of young black men neared the entire city population of young black men (133,119 as compared to 158,406). More than 90 percent of young black and Latino men stopped were innocent.


Thanks to the stop-and-frisk ruling, hopefully that will change.

Loser: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

Kelly has enjoyed so much popularity in his years as police commissioner that at one time it was rumored he was being drafted to run for mayor. But Kelly has never expressed an interest in being a politician, although it was recently reported that he would consider an appointment or Cabinet-level position in government. It was reported that the Obama administration was considering him as a possible replacement for retiring Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But thanks to his unwavering support of stop and frisk, and the court's ruling questioning its unconstitutionality, an appointment in the Obama administration just went from long shot to no shot.


Winner: NYCLU

Occasionally civil liberties groups are dismissed as being headline-seeking defenders of white supremacists who want to march in a parade, or other undesirables. But the New York Civil Liberties Union's leadership and advocacy on ending stop and frisk was reminiscent of the work of civil rights groups to dismantle unfair laws at the height of the civil rights movement. 


Keli Goff is The Root's special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter