*(Journal & Times) One of the nation’s leading fighters for Constitutional rights last week (Thursday) filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia challenging the use of so-called “stop and frisk” searches by the city’s police department.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the searches are violating the rights of Blacks and Latinos who have done nothing wrong.
City data obtained by the ACLU shows that in 2009, a whopping 253,000 pedestrians were subjected to “stop and frisk” searches. Only 8.4 percent of the searches resulted in an arrest but over 70 percent of those searched were African Americans. The bulk of the remainder was Hispanics.
Ironically, the alleged discrimination against minorities is being carried out by a city with both a Black Mayor Michael Nutter and a Black Chief Charles Ramsey. Nutter has been subjected for month to widespread booing when he attends predominantly Black events and Ramsey was the former police chief in Washington, D.C. where he instituted several anti-crime policies which were controversial or resulted in lawsuits.
From the perspective of the two men, however; Philadelphia had experienced a crime surge in recent years and the “stop and frisk” policy was part of Nutter’s 2007 mayoral campaign.
A court decision in the case will likely have an impact in other cities around the nation which have adopted similar policies. In New York City, for example, official records show that 85 percent of the people subjected to “stop and frisk” are either Black of Hispanic.
Constitutionally, the ACLU is arguing that a citizen is not supposed to be subjected to a police stop and frisk unless there is “probable cause:” to believe that he or she has committed a crime. The searches in Philadelphia, however, are done pretty much at random.