Upon hearing that the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a New York Post reporter, a coworker quipped “The NYCLU and New York Post joinning forces? What next? Cats playing with dogs? Yankees hugging Red Sox? Cylons and humans calling the war off?”
But the matter is far too serious, as the above video will attest. Leonardo Blair’s account is chilling and his ordeal only came to an abrupt halt when informed police that he was a reporter—an option that most New Yorkers don’t have.
In December, he wrote about his ordeal in the Post.
From the NYCLU:
The reporter, Leonardo Blair — a Jamaican-born black man — was stopped, arrested and jailed without justification in November while walking from his car to his aunt’s home in the Bronx. The lawsuit maintains that Blair’s constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated and names the City of New York, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and NYPD officers William Castillo and Eric Reynolds as defendants.
“Leo Blair was handcuffed and hauled to a precinct house for simply walking down the street,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “Walking while black is not a crime, and yet every year hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers are stopped, searched and interrogated by the police for doing just that. For justice in our city to be truly just, the NYPD needs to start treating all New Yorkers fairly, regardless of the color of their skin.”
According to data released earlier this week, New York City police officers stopped more people on the streets during the first three months of 2008 than during any quarter in the six years the Department has reported the data.