NEW YORK – A Bronx Criminal Court judge has dismissed charges against a black New York Post reporter who was the victim of racial profiling by NYPD officers. The dismissal came on the same day that the NYPD quietly released figures showing that police made nearly half a million stops in 2007, most of which were of black and Latino New Yorkers.
Last Friday Judge Harold Enten dismissed two summons issued by police officers to Leonardo Blair, an African-American Columbia University journalism school graduate who works as a reporter for the Post. While walking home after having parked his car in the Bronx on November 28, 2007, Blair was stopped by police officers and then handcuffed after he protested the stop.
He was then taken to a local precinct and placed in a cell, only to be promptly released when the officers learned he was a Post reporter. To cover their actions, officers gave him two summonses, one for allegedly disobeying a lawful order and one for allegedly making unreasonable noise. It was these summons that Judge Enten dismissed last Friday.
Blair told of his arrest and mistreatment in a gripping first-person account that ran in the Post:
I was just trying to get home.
It was 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, and I had just finished parking my 1993 Toyota Camry along Arnow Avenue in the Allerton section of The Bronx, where I have been living with my family since graduating from Columbia University last May.
Less than a block from my door, I heard a car's squeaking brakes. I would have ignored the sound if I hadn't seen an NYPD squad car out of the corner of my eye. I was relieved for a moment - until I saw the officers' faces.
“Leo Blair is just one of hundreds of thousands of black New Yorkers who have been wrongly stopped-and-frisked by the NYPD,” said Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s associate legal director who appeared in court on behalf of Blair. “This racial profiling must stop.”
NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “For our justice system to work, all people must be treated fairly, regardless of the color of their skin. But the NYPD is stopping and frisking black and Latino New Yorkers for doing nothing more than walking down the street. We cannot tolerate a criminal justice system that is unfair to racial and ethnic minorities.”
Late on Friday evening the NYPD also quietly released stop and frisk numbers for the last quarter of 2007. For the full year, the NYPD stopped 468,932 New Yorkers. Though they make up only a quarter of the City’s population, half of those stopped were black. Of the 242,373 blacks stopped in 2007, about 87 percent were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, as they were neither given a summons nor arrested.