Scheindlin, the 2017 Day Pitney Visiting Scholar, traced the history of racial bias in law enforcement from slavery through debt peonage to the War on Drugs, mandatory minimum sentencing and mass incarceration. She concluded with an assessment of Floyd v. City of New York, a class action lawsuit she tried in the Southern District of New York that challenged the stop-and-frisk practices of the New York City Police Department.
Her presentation was part of the Day Pitney Visiting Scholar program, sponsored by the Connecticut Law Review and underwritten by the Day Pitney Foundation.
The practice of stopping, questioning and searching people when there is little or no reason to suspect them of a crime has been aimed more frequently and more aggressively at African American and Hispanic people, in New York and other cities, Scheindlin said. The experience may not seem damaging to those who have not endured it—until they listen to those who have, she said. “It’s an intrusion. It’s public. It often spins out of control.”