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Stop-and-frisk ruling draws praise, criticism from advocates, politicians

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton speaks to reporters

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton speaks to reporters outside of the West Wing after he and a group of civil rights leaders met on the Voting Rights Act with President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Labor Secretary Tom Perez. (July 29, 2013) Credit: Getty

Civic leaders, activists and New York City mayoral candidates reacted swiftly Monday to a federal judge's ruling that the NYPD deliberately violated the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of people with a stop-and-frisk policy the jurist found racially discriminatory.

"This is a groundbreaking victory," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and chief executive of the NAACP. "Judge Scheindlin recognized what the NAACP has been saying for years: The racial profiling tactic of stop-and-frisk has no place in our enlightened society.

Jealous and other advocates praised U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin's decision to appoint a monitor to oversee the program.

But the ruling also had its critics.

Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said the decision is "unnecessarily complex and fails to address the root of the problem. Quotas for police activities like summonses and stop, question and frisks are a direct result of inadequate funding of the NYPD and understaffing in local precincts."

Lynch said "monitors, facilitators and public hearings" recommended by the judge in her decision will cost the city millions of dollars and "will do nothing more than make the toughest policing job in the world even more difficult and dangerous."

The opinions of candidates for mayor were split.

Businessman and Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis said the practice was "proactive police work that stops crime and keeps guns off the streets," and urged the decision's appeal.

He also praised the NYPD, saying, "Today's decision should not be viewed as an indictment of their tactics."

Mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, a Republican, also criticized Scheindlin's opinion and urged Bloomberg to appeal it.

"The last thing we need is another layer of outside bureaucracy dictating our policing," he said.

Democratic mayoral candidates including Anthony Weiner, John Liu, Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn backed Scheindlin.

Quinn said that "today's court ruling affirms what we have known for some time -- too many young men of color are being stopped in the streets of New York in an unconstitutional manner and that must stop."

Weiner said the "decision sadly confirms what was profoundly obvious. When the police stop tens of thousands of citizens who have done nothing wrong -- the overwhelming number being young men of color -- basic civil rights are being violated."

De Blasio said, "The overuse and misuse of stop-and-frisk hasn't made New York a safer city. It has only served to drive police and community further apart."

"The judge's call for reforms must be heeded, and -- longer term -- the tactic should be abolished," said John Liu, who is city comptroller.

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