Daily Video

August 14, 2013

Judge Rules New York’s “Stop and Frisk” Unfairly Targets Minorities

Recently, a federal judge declared that New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” policy was unconstitutional because it unfairly targets minority men. When making her decision, Judge Shira Scheindlin cited the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

The stop and frisk program allows New York Police Department officers to stop pedestrians they suspect of wrongdoing, question them and frisk them for weapons or contraband. While only a small percentage of stops result in arrests or weapons confiscations, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it is a vital part of keeping the city safe.

“Our crime strategies and tools, including stop, question, frisk, have made New York City the safest big city in America,” he said. “In fact, murders are 50 percent below the level they were 12 years ago, when we came into office, something no one thought possible back then. Stop, question, frisk, which the Supreme Court of the United States has found to be constitutional, is an important part of that record of success.”

However, the young men affected most by the policy say it is damaging the community. David Ourlicht, who says he has been stopped so many times he can’t remember the number, said, “I think that that creates distrust within the community, because I think these communities, like, yes, we all want safe things, but I also don’t want my son or my child or my uncle or my niece or my nephew or anybody in my — or family and friends to have to be abused.”


“I have pretty much lost track of how many times I have been stopped. It’s sort of like rites of passage for a lot of black and brown boys in different neighborhoods around the city,” – Nicholas Peart.

Warm up questions

1. What is the “Stop, question, and frisk” policy? How does it work? Do you have it in your state?

2. What is the 4th Amendment? Why is it important?

3. Do you think that people of color are unfairly targeted by police?

Discussion questions

1. What are the positive effects of this policy? What are some of the negative effects?

2. Could there be other factors- besides the “Stop, question, and frisk” policy- that have led to a decrease in the crime rate in New York and other cities?

3. Do you think the Judge’s decision to challenge the policy was right or wrong? Explain and defend your answer.

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