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The New York Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy is the centerpiece of a class-action lawsuit with lawyers alleging that cops have stopped thousands because of their race. The trial opened today at the Federal District Court in Manhattan, with all eyes on the outcome regarding the controversial tactic writes the Associated Press

Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said in court that the policy itself is legal but how it is applied is not.  Calling the half million annual stops a “frightening and degrading experience” for Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, Charney further added that the “thousands if not millions” of individuals were stopped under a policy that is “arbitrary, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

According to a New York Times report, the trial is expected to last until May with over 100 witnesses slated to testify. Scholars, lawmakers, residents, police officers and others are expected to offer varying opinions and accounts during the trial’s duration. NYPD has made about five million stops over the past 10 years, with the vast majority of those stopped being male and minorities.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has already publicly spoken on her concerns over the “stop-and-frisk” policy, will not be asked to ban the use of the tactic. Instead, lawyers hope to highlight the need for the policy to be fairly reformed.

Of the many stops made, only a scant 10 percent have resulted in arrest after typically invasive searches from police.

Photo: Joe Marino/for New York Daily News

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