Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Judge Shira Scheindlin: Stop and Frisk

Which Kids Will Be Stopped and Frisked?

Judge Scheindlin

As expected (see Mad Dog's May 28th post),Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled against the City of New York, its police department, its mayor in the stop and frisk cases.

Why should anyone in New Hampshire care about this? Because we are the Live Free or Die state and we care about intrusive government exerting its will without restraint. As that trusty Yankee from Massachusetts (Thoreau) once said, the only place for a just man in an unjust society, is jail.

Judge Scheindlin wrote a 200 page opinion, which Mad Dog may or may not have the patience to plow through, but already on the New Yorker blog is a post analyzing the statistical basis on which she based at least part of her opinion. She was trying to gather numbers to support the idea that stop and frisk is used not to find weapons carried by malefactors who harbor criminal intent, but to intimidate minorities into passivity.  

The police argue they stop more blacks and Hispanics because it is among this group you find the most weapons and 80% of the crimes are committed by this group. So you go where the money is.

Of course, this is profiling. It means if you see a Black man in a Black neighborhood, you stop him because he is walking while Black, and statistically he is more likely to have a gun than the white guy in this neighborhood. For the same reason, you see a Black man in a white neighborhood, you stop him, because, ipso facto, he's suspicious.

After wending her way through a bunch of absurd academic "studies" and many statistics, the Judge finally arrives at the conclusion we all knew to begin with--in this country you are not supposed to be stopped and accused of something unless you do something to justify the suspicion; in this country you are not supposed to be considered suspicious because you are Black or Hispanic.

It doesn't take academic studies (especially poorly designed, derivative studies in which summaries of pieces of paper are examined) to allow Mad Dog or any mentating citizen to conclude police who are encouraged to throw men up against a wall will happily do this as a way of intimidating, dominating and establishing who is the alpha dog in the neighborhood. 

Mad Dog recalls walking down First Avenue in Manhattan, in 1971, carrying a long umbrella on what turned out to be a sunny day. A police cruiser pulled over. A policeman jumped out and demanded the umbrella, which Mad Dog handed over, dumbfounded, curious, but not intimidated because he was white in a white neighborhood and had never been mistreated by the white police from the 20th precinct.  The policeman pulled and twisted the curved wooden handle and finally handed it back.  "Just checking to see if there was a sword inside." 

That would have been an entirely different experience had Mad Dog been Black or had Mad Dog been walking in Bedford Stuyvestant. As a white guy in a white neighborhood, it was just an amusing kerfuffle.  As a Black guy, in any neighborhood, it would have been an insult and a nasty experience. You would have felt judged. You are Black; therefore, you are dangerous and you should be treated as a potential felon.
You have only to watch "The Wire"to understand what this is all about. It's the West Baltimore way of policing and it's done by the most thuggish of the police, with a certain glee--they have a license to bully, and they like to throw their weight around, especially when they have the billy club and the back up and the citizen they are humping is defenseless. 

Mayor Blumenthal says Judge Scheindlin does not understand the Constitution and he says she does not understand police work. 

She may not--Mad Dog has not read her opinion.  But Mad Dog thinks the rest of us understand the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment which forbids unreasonable search and seizure because even in the 18th century Americans knew they did not want to give police too much license, too much power.  

And Mad Dog thinks he understands the policeman who stops and frisks. He is the top dog humping. 

Judge Scheindlin knows what she sees. 
Don't we all?


  1. Mad Dog,
    Mayor Bloomberg doesn't strike me as a racist-to much of a pragmatist perhaps, but not a racist. So it's difficult to understand his continued defense of stop and frisk. He was privy to the same "facts" the Judge was-that all these stop and frisks produced very few summons and arrests. How exactly then does the Mayor think the crime rate was lowered-through intimidation? He does seem one convinced that the ends justify the means, despite what is lost(dignity, Constitutional rights) in the process. But can someone who embraces and endorses racist policy not be a racist?

    Not on politics-guess what,I'm three quarters through the first season of "The Killing" and I have to thank you for another great suggestion. --spoiler alert--In the episode I watched last night the teacher met his untimely end at the hands-literally-of Dad. Soooo-if he wasn't driving the campaign car, I think I have an idea who was and why. I'll let you know if I was right(probably not) when I get to the end...

  2. Maud,

    Not to spoil the spoiler alert, but you may have leapt to a conclusion about the fate of the teacher.
    I knew you'd like The Killing. It's so dark and Scandinavian.
    I am currently hooked on Newsroom--I know, I know. It's almost as bad as having to admit you were hooked on OC or Downton Abbey, but there it is.
    Bloomberg is simply a business man smart guy, not a smart guy. He is apparently unaware there has been a huge problem determining what has led to the reduction in crime, and he draws the conclusion most useful to himself. By this sort of mental midgetry, we would have concluded malaria was caused by bad air and crowding in the town and moved everyone out to the mosquito infected swamps and suburbs. The Times had a smart report on this yesterday. Basically, what the Mayor and the police said was 1/ It's the coloreds doing the crime so we stop the coloreds.
    2/ If we can intimidate all coloreds, well then they'll get the message and stop committing crimes.
    May not be racist, may be data driven, but it's the definition of unreasonable search and seizure.

    Mad Dog