Lead Attorneys in Federal Stop and Frisk Class Action Lawsuit in Chicago Outraged by Donald Trump’s Recommendations to Increase Use of Unconstitutional Tactics
Romanucci & Blandin Continue Pursuit of Justice for Class Plaintiffs in Stop and Frisk Lawsuit in Chicago
Lead Attorney on Stop and Frisk Class Action Lawsuit, Antonio Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin, cites Donald Trump’s comments on increasing the practice of Stop and Frisk – especially in Chicago – as uninformed and potentially dangerous toward mending police and African American relations in the city.
“Mr. Trump is speaking out on a topic for which he is not only out-of-touch, but also uniformed on the basic civil liberties of each and every American,” said Romanucci. “His rhetoric on this subject is offensive to the hard work of reform the ACLU and the Chicago Police Department have undertaken,” he added. “The efforts to reform this policy and ensure that stops on Chicago streets meet constitutional and legal standards, could be jeopardized by Trump’s brazen comments.”
The complaint filed by Romanucci and Blandin in April of 2015 asserts that the CPD’s widespread constitutional abuses have flourished as a result of, and are directly caused by, policies and practices devised, implemented, and enforced by the City. These entities have: (a) failed to properly screen, train, and supervise CPD officers, (b) inadequately monitored CPD officers and their stop and frisk practices, (c) failed to sufficiently discipline CPD officers who engage in constitutional abuses, and (d) encouraged, sanctioned and failed to rectify the CPD’s unconstitutional practices.
This class action lawsuit to stop the pervasive practice of unconstitutional stop and frisks in the City of Chicago follows a landmark federal class action lawsuit filed in 2008 against the City of New York and NYPD (Floyd, et al. v. City of New York). In August 2013, a federal judge found the NYPD liable for a pattern and practice of racial profiling and unconstitutional stops and frisks.
Based on information made publicly available by the CPD, and recently publicized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, hundreds of thousands of people are stopped or stopped and frisked each year by the CPD without reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal conduct. In their March 2015 report investigating the CPD’s stop and frisk practices, the ACLU of Illinois found:
· In 2012 and 2013, half of the written and recorded 250 stops in the CPD’s records did not provide legally sufficient reasons to establish reasonable suspicions for stop and frisk.
· During a four-month period of May through August 2014, African-American Chicagoans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops (though this demographic constitutes just 32 percent of the city’s population).
·From May through August 2014, more than 250,000 stops—primarily of African-Americans—did not lead to an arrest; Chicagoans were stopped at a substantially higher rate than New Yorker’s in 2011, which was the peak of NYC’s stop and frisk regime.
Police in Chicago performed far more stop-and-frisks the summer of 2014 than New York City cops ever did during the height of that department’s use of the controversial practice, according to a report published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. also reveals that officers in the Windy City disproportionately targeted blacks and other racial minorities, and tended to implement stops in minority neighborhoods at a far greater rate than in those that are predominately white.
In 2014, there were 93.6 stops in Chicago per 1000 people (between May-August 2014). By contrast, in 2011, at the height of New York City’s stop and frisk practice, there were 22.9 stops per 1,000 people.
The question of when police are allowed to formally stop and interview citizens was the central issue in the latest stop-and-frisk ruling in New York after it’s practices were found to be unconstitutionally based on racial profiling. Some police and politicians there warned that their city could turn into a bloody war zone like Chicago. Officials here responded that crime in Chicago is at the lowest level in decades (at the time), even though our police happen to comply with the law.
Unfortunately, savvy taglines don’t prevent crime, and the story is more complicated than either side wanted to admit. Chicago police, like their Fraternal Order of New York police brothers and every other big city, have their own procedures for stopping certain people in certain communities and looking for guns, drugs, gang ties, or any other signs of criminality. The policies in Chicago may be less visibly flawed than New York’s, but they cause the same tensions between public safety and personal liberty.
By law, police need to have a reason to stop and interview someone. But not much of one—all that’s required is “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity, which allows for wide discretion. Police can’t say someone is suspicious just because he’s standing on the street, but if it’s a street known for drug activity and he’s been out there for two hours while six buses drove by, that might be another story. Cops have even more latitude in high-crime areas, where suspicion can be justified by “nervous, evasive behavior,” according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ACLU report also identified a historical pattern of the CPD’s stop and frisk practice during Terry stops (a brief detention of a person by police on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity but short of probable cause to arrest). According to the report, in the early 1980s, more than 100,000 residents were stopped and frisked and arrested. However, these cases almost never resulted in convictions due to arresting officers not attending court hearings to defend arrests. In the 1990s, a ‘gang loitering ordinance’ led to more than 40,000 stops and frisks and arrests during an 18-month period. An ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis in the early 2000s, after being subjected to an unwarranted stop and frisk conducted by the CPD, resulted in official policy changes by the CPD. However, these changes have proven futile or insufficient in stopping the practice of unlawful stops and frisks of minorities protected under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and judgments against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department (CPD), in addition to an immediate injunction of stop and frisk practices or a consent decree mandating policy change. The lawsuit is class action No: 1:15-cv-03467.
Those interested in learning more about the federal case can call: 1-800-458-9636;