Court Upholds Claims of Unlawful Trespass Stops and Arrests in Public Housing

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, a federal court rejected the City of New York (City)'s and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)'s attempt to dismiss claims that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is wrongfully stopping and arresting public housing residents and guests for trespassing. Instead, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin declared that Davis v. City of New York, the lawsuit filed by NYCHA residents and visitors through their attorneys the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and The Legal Aid Society, raises "consequential" questions of whether NYPD officers are "violating the rights of the very residents (and guests) whom they seek to protect."

Public housing residents and their visitors are routinely subjected to unlawful NYPD stops, frisks, and trespass arrests in NYCHA residences. One16-year-old high school student was arrested while waiting in a building lobby for a friend to escort her home after visiting a family friend. African-Americans and Latinos, who comprise more than 90 percent of NYCHA residents, have borne the overwhelming brunt of these illegal practices. Judge Scheindlin's ruling declares these claims should proceed to trial.

Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of the Legal Aid Society, commented, "The district court's ruling today is an important step forward to end the unlawful stops, frisks and arrests of New York City Housing Authority residents and their guests, which can result in evictions and loss of employment among other harms."

"Today's ruling makes clear that people in public housing cannot be treated like criminals simply for being in their own homes," said Debo Adegbile, LDF's Acting Director-Counsel. "The Court properly recognized that the NYPD must respect the rights of all New Yorkers regardless of race or residence."

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is a leading voice in the struggle to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF has been recognized as the nation's finest civil rights law firm. Although initially affiliated with the NAACP, LDF has been an entirely separate organization since 1957.

The Legal Aid Society (LAS) is a private, not-for-profit legal services organization, the oldest and largest in the nation, dedicated since 1876 to providing quality legal representation to low-income New Yorkers. It is dedicated to one simple but powerful belief: that no New Yorker should be denied access to justice because of poverty.


Melissa Potter, 212-965-2276

Patricia Bath, 212-577-3346

SOURCE NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund