Saturday, July 17, 2010


Adam Cooper, a 32-year-old African American, was charged with trespass and held in police custody for three days. The charges were eventually dropped. Cooper claims that the police did not bother to knock on Suarez's door to check whether he was a guest.

Over a year later, Cooper and Suarez are now plaintiffs in a federal class action suit against the New York Police Department and the New York City Housing Authority. The complaint accuses the two agencies of encouraging aggressive patrols and illegal stops and arrests in public housing all over the city. But more significantly, the complaint, headed by the Legal Aid Society and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, asserts that this practice of vertical patrolling discriminates against blacks and Latinos. The complaint comes only a year after the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a suit alleging the NYPD practices racial profiling during its stop and frisk procedures.

In 2003 the NYPD launched Operation Clean Halls, which allows the police to stop, search and question anyone they deem to be suspicious. When officers conduct a "vertical patrol," they walk through and do a sweep of the hallways, stairwells, rooftops and landings, to ensure the building is safe and that no one is trespassing or engaging in criminal activity. The NYPD may only do this in buildings where they are given permission to do so, such as NYCHA buildings. Residents can be charged with trespass if they enter prohibited parts of the building, such as the rooftop or the basement, or if they cannot provide identification or proof of residence. Non-residents can be charged if they are uninvited or if the person they are visiting is not there to confirm they are a in fact a guest. More

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