Attorney Heidi Boghosian Speech: National Special Security Events – RNC / DNC

We hear a presentation by our own Heidi Boghosian. Heidi spoke at an event sponsored by station affiliate WSLR FM 96.5 – Sarasota, Florida. As the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, Heidi had coordinated and organized legal observers during the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. While in Florida, Heidi delivered a talk about the eroding civil rights of protesters during National Special Security events, pre-event surveillance and tactical strategies deployed by police.

Heidi Boghosian is the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive bar association established in 1937. She has published articles on policing, protest and the First Amendment including Punishing Protest and The Assault on Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Dissent (North River Press, 2004). Her book reviews have been published in The Federal Lawyer magazine and the New York Law Journal.

CCR Stop and Frisk Suit NYC: Floyd et al. v. New York City

Last month, a federal judge excluded portions of proposed testimony from New York City’s key witness in the Center for Constitutional Right’s Stop and Frisk class action lawsuit Floyd v. City of New York. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled the defendants’ testimony untested and unreliable.  The ruling supports that there isn’t evidence that the “Stop and Frisk” practice reduces crime.” said CCR Legal Director Vince Warren (quote)  “The ruling soundly rejects the false choice propounded by the NYPD, between living in a safe city and being free of unconstitutional, racially discriminatory policing.”

In 2009 New York City, a record 576,394 people were stopped, 84 percent of whom were Black and Latino residents — although they comprise only about 26 percent and 27 percent of New York City’s total population respectively. Ten years of raw data obtained by court order from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) showed that stop-and-frisks result in a minimal yield of weapons and contraband.

Attorney Darius Charney:

  • When we say “stop” were really talking about a detention of somebody’s liberty by the police. Frisk is a pat down of the outside of somebody’s clothing.
  • For purposes of the 4th Amendment we are talking about a seizure when somebody is stopped, their liberty is taken away from them for a period of time and when they’re frisked, they’re searched.
  • About 99.3 percent of the time the police find no gun.
  • According the Supreme Court in a case they decided about 44 years ago, called Terry v. Ohio, for a police officer to stop someone on the street they have to have what’s called reasonable, articulatable suspicion.
  • It has to be more than a hunch, or a whim or a subjective belief that somebody’s doing something wrong. It has to be articulatable specific facts that the officer is aware of that would cause him or her to reasonably believe that this person has committed a crime, is in the process of committing a crime or is about to commit a crime.
  • If they have reasonable suspicion and they stop to ask you questions, you’re supposed to answer the questions.
  • They may ask you for identification, that’s not against the law in New York state. You don’t have to provide it to them.
  • You’re free to not answer but depending on what the questions are and if you don’t answer them, that may give the officer a basis to have probable cause to arrest you.
  • For the officer to then put their hands on you, they have to have reasonable suspicion that you’re armed and dangerous.
  • It can’t be that they think you have drugs in your pocket. Officers often get angry or irritated if you assert the rights that you have.
  • What commonly happens in New York and other places is that somebody does assert their rights the officer may retaliate against them by issuing them a ticket for disorderly conduct.
  • The person has a right to say “show me your badge” to a plain clothes police officer.
  • Stop and Frisk has increased over 600 percent in New York City.
  • In New York police are arresting 50 thousand people a year with small amounts of marijuana.
  • The New York Police Department Stop and Frisk practices are literally going to be put on trial in a federal court in Manhattan this coming Spring.
  • We were certified for a class action in May, so we have a website for class members.
  • In order to fight crime you need to work together with the community and if the community doesn’t trust you, fear you, that’s not going to happen.

Guest – Attorney Darius Charney,  senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice/Government Misconduct Docket.  He is currently lead counsel on Floyd v. City of New York, a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices, and Vulcan Society Inc. v. the City of New York, a Title VII class action lawsuit on behalf of African-American applicants to the New York City Fire Department which challenges the racially discriminatory hiring practices of the FDNY.




  • Bradley Manning Public Access Case: Amicus Brief Filed by Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Southern Poverty Law Center Lawsuit Against Chemically Spraying Students

Share This Episode