Private lawsuits have been filed against police departments to address abusive practices. In Floyd et al. v. City of New York, a federal judge found the New York Police Department (NYPD) liable for a pattern and practice of racial profiling and unconstitutional stops. A federal judge is currently monitoring the NYPD’s implementation of court-ordered reforms to address biased policing practices. Information about the reform process is available here. In Davis v. City of New York, a case litigated by LDF, the court found that the NYPD stopped and arrested people of color who lived in or visited public housing apartments, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. In 2015, the court approved a settlement to remedy the NYPD’s unlawful practices in public housing.
When the Trump administration created the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice to, in part, promote “public respect for the law and law enforcement,” composed almost entirely of law enforcement, LDF successfully filed suit for violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, challenging its legitimacy. (NAACP Legal Defense Fund v. Barr, et al., 2020).
In Louisville, after the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) used militaristic force on peaceful protestors, as they protested against police violence, LDF filed suit to challenge LMPD’s use of force. (Scott v. Louisville/Metro Government, et al., 2020)
In Philadelphia, after the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) used militaristic force on residents in a predominantly Black neighborhood in West Philadelphia, LDF filed suit challenging the PPD’s excessive use of force. (Smith v. City of Philadelphia, et al., 2020).
In New York City, after an NYPD officer attacked a protestor, forcibly removing Mr. Smith’s mask – which he was wearing to protect himself and others from COVID-19 – and pepper-sprayed him in the face, LDF sued the City of New York. (Smith v. City of New York, 2020)
In Alamance County, North Carolina, marchers and prospective voters walking from a church to a nearby polling site—among them young children, elderly individuals, and those with disabilities— were repeatedly pepper-sprayed without warning or provocation by police. Some prospective voters were unable to register to vote by the 3 p.m. deadline and therefore could not vote on Election Day. LDF and co-counsel filed a lawsuit against the City of Graham and Alamance County challenging this unwarranted use of force and intimidation of prospective voters.