On October 8, 2014, the Boston Herald published an article relating to Boston Police Department stop and frisk practices.
The article referenced a report conducted by the ACLU. The report reviewed BPD data relating to “police-civilian” encounter from 2007-2010. The data suggested 63% of “police-civilian” encounters involved African-Americans. The report also found African-Americans comprise 25% of the city’s population.
Obviously, a person cannot be stopped based on his/her race. While all people have a constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article XIV of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, they may also have a constitutional claim under the Equal Protection Clause.
Demonstrating a violation of the Equal Protection Clause can be much more difficult. Often times the data needed to challenge the stop is difficult to obtain. Additionally, an expert will be needed to review the data and consult with counsel on the findings of the data. This can be a significant expense for a defendant seeking to challenge a stop based on an Equal Protection violation.
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