Criticism and Defense of Stop and Frisk Continue

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, weigh in on the controversial police program.

Posted: 08/19/2013 10:22 AM EDT

After a federal judge ruled that New York City’s policy of stop and frisk violates constitutional protections, the controversial practice is being weighed by a police department that is trying to understand how to move forward amid the continued condemnation of critics, including the mother of Trayvon Martin.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the slain 17-year-old Florida student, criticized stop and frisk as unconstitutional and said that the practice was particularly unfair to African-American and Latino young people who make up the bulk of those detained under the program.

"You can't give people the authority — whether it's civilians or police officers — the right to just stop somebody because of the color of their skin," said Fulton, speaking on the NBC News program Meet the Press. “I think you have to give the police right direction.”

Two weeks ago, a federal district judge ruled that stop and frisk is an unconstitutional police practice because it discriminates against New Yorkers because of their race. In the ruling, Judge Shira Scheindlin called for a number of reforms, including a monitor to oversee police conduct. She also called for police to use body cameras to record their interaction with New Yorkers.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the judge's order to use body cameras "opens up certainly more questions than it answers."

"When do you have the cameras on?" Kelly asked, speaking on CBS’s news program Face the Nation. He added: "When do you turn them off? Do you have it on during a domestic dispute? Do you have it on when somebody comes to give you confidential information? All of these issues have to be answered."

Stop and frisk has been harshly criticized by a number of New York City politicians as well as civil rights and civil liberties groups, who contend that it unfairly targets Black and brown New Yorkers who are routinely stopped by the police.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Kelly have continued to defend the practice, saying that it has been critical to maintaining law and order in America’s largest city.

Another critic who weighed in on the topic over the weekend was Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and chief executive of the NAACP. Jealous, appearing along with Sybrina Fulton on Meet the Press, criticized Kelly, whose name is being discussed widely as a possible director of Homeland Security.

“We heard a man who aspires to be the head of Homeland Security saying saying that his officers have to violate the U.S. Constitution to make us safer,” Jealous said. “That should send chills down the spine of everyone in this country.”

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(Photo: Courtesy of MSNBC)

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