The Milwaukee Police Department performs thousands of illegal stop-and-frisks targeting African Americans and Latinos every year, charges a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The suit contends that police routinely pull people over and stop them on the street without cause, demanding identification and searching them or their vehicles. Such stops are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which requires police to have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is dangerous or has committed a crime, the ACLU says.
The suit accuses officers of conducting stop-and-frisks “motivated by race and ethnicity” in violation of the 14th amendment. Plaintiffs include a mother who says police stopped her son just blocks from his school when he was 11 and a 60-year-old school secretary who says police followed her and her 4-year-old granddaughter into her house without her permission, claiming they had evidence of heroin use. “Black and Latino people throughout Milwaukee — including children — fear that they may be stopped, frisked, or otherwise treated like criminal suspects when doing nothing more than walking to a friend’s house or home from school, driving to and from the homes of loved ones, running errands, or simply taking a leisurely walk or drive through the city,” the suit says. Police Chief Edward Flynn denied the allegations, saying his department “has never used the practice of ‘stop and frisk,’ nor has there ever been a quota for traffic stops. However, traffic stops in high-crime areas have been proven to reduce the number of non-fatal shootings, robberies and motor vehicle thefts.”