Black Lives Matter Buffalo and a coalition of residents have filed a federal lawsuit against the Buffalo Police Department.
Black Lives Matter and several other groups stood in front of City Hall and announced the federal lawsuit filed against BPD and the city of Buffalo, claiming the city needs to be held more accountable for how it treats African Americans, reported Buffalo News.
They also request the state Attorney General’s office investigate the BPD for “unconstitutional searches and seizures” based on a State University of New York at Buffalo and Cornell Law School study co-authored by Anji Malhotra.
“In our study, we have found that since 2006, when the city … adopted a broken windows/zero tolerance policing policy. That policy is really meant only zero tolerance for people of color in the City of Buffalo. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to everyone, equally, that one has a right to be free of unreasonable seizures,” Malhotra said.
Buffalo News reported Malhotra, along with current and former UB law students who worked on the study, said, as the study specified, that their “data establishes clear racial disparities adversely impacting African-Americans and Latinos — and sharp increases in these disparities as Buffalo has moved further towards its most recent urban renewal program.”
Called “Authority without Accountability,” the study found that:
- By 2014, African-Americans in the City of Buffalo were five times more likely to be arrested (up from 4.25 in 2010) and 14 times more likely to be detained (up from nearly 11 times in 2010) than similarly situated whites.
- Between 2006 and 2015, African-Americans in Buffalo were seven times more likely to be arrested than whites for misdemeanor marijuana possession (up from four times from 1996-2005).
- Latinos, who had about the same arrest rate as whites from 1996-2005, are now more than twice as likely to be arrested for the lowest level misdemeanor marijuana possession.
- From 2013-2015, African-Americans accounted for 81 percent of all lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests, even though surveys consistently show that whites use marijuana as much or more than blacks.
- In just two years following the implementation of daily Strike Force checkpoints in 2013, the Buffalo Police Department issued 25,000 more traffic tickets than the previous two years (2011-2012). The number grew from 40,761 to 65,862, a 62 percent increase.
The complaint accuses Buffalo police officers, at the direction of Mayor Brown, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda and officials at Buffalo Municipal Housing Administration of:
- Stopping vehicles at checkpoints and conducting searches in housing projects without reasonable suspicion.
- Routine, unjustified pedestrian stops and arrests made without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
- Systematic and persistent excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, including documented law enforcement beatings of unarmed minorities.
- Racial profiling, targeting and disparities resulting in part from intentional racial bias in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The lawsuit was filed by a woman who says she was retaliated against by BPD after she did a T.V. interview criticizing the traffic checkpoint in front of her east side home. She says a week later, she was given several tickets by the BPD for things like her garbage can and a car on her property.
The lawsuit was filed with the Western District of New York District Court and the plaintiffs are seeking money damages.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)