A white, vegan, 22-year-old woman from Essex, N.J. is suing the New York Police Department after she was allegedly stopped, frisked and partially strip-searched for no good reason under the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.
In a federal lawsuit filed this week in Brooklyn, Bard College graduate (and environmental rights major) Samantha Rosenbaum claims that NYPD officers threw her against an unmarked police car on July 17, 2012, reports the New York Post.
The alleged incident occurred in the middle of the day in the hipster haven of Williamsburg, a Brooklyn neighborhood just across the river from Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
At the time, Rosenbaum was an intern at Vaute Couture, a vegan clothing store on Grand Street in Williamsburg dedicated to producing a line of clothing that is “flattering” and “cruelty free.”
She was on her way back to the store from the post office when, she claims in the suit, she took time to engage with a kitten behind a gate.
A plain-clothed man inside a gold vehicle allegedly bellowed, “Hey! Stop!”
When Rosenbaum kept walking, the man and a woman ran over and yelled at her for not stopping. They also asked her if she had any drugs.
“This whole time, I didn’t know who these people are,” she told the Post. “Finally, after a few minutes, they tell me they are police.”
According to the suit, a female NYPD officer lifted up Rosenbaum’s tank top and looked inside her bra, apparently searching for drugs. The cops also looked in her underwear.
“My face and stomach were on the hood,” said Rosenbaum, who is 5-foot-1 and weighs 110 pounds.
“Multiple times, the defendant officers threatened to take plaintiff down to the police station and write her up for [a] felony,” the suit alleges.
At some point, the roughed-up Rosenbaum began to cry.
“I don’t think anyone, no matter what color you are, deserves to be treated like that,” the diminutive vegan told the Post.
“She thought she was getting kidnapped,” her attorney, Michael Goldstein, added.
Eventually, the cops allegedly deigned to set Rosenbaum free.
“They told me they didn’t want me to have a bad impression of cops so they were going to let me go,” she told the Post.
A spokeswoman for New York City’s Law Department, Kate O’Brien Ahlers, said, “The city will evaluate the claim.”
Just a few days ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that police stop and frisk white people at a rate that is higher than the rate for minorities when the number of criminal offenders from various demographics is taken into account.
As the New York State branch of the American Civil Liberties Union points out, NYPD data suggests that a considerable majority of New Yorkers who are stopped and frisked each year are black and Latino.
“Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports,” the civil rights organization notes.
On the other hand, as a National Review editorial observes, stop-and-frisk tactics tend to be applied most in high-crime areas where the residents are more likely to be black and Latino.
“More than 90 percent of those being sought in New York City murder cases are described as being black or Latino,” according to the National Review editorial.