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Trial over N.Y. stop-and-frisk tactic to begin

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning, and frisking people on the street is facing its biggest legal challenge this week with a federal civil rights trial on whether the tactic unfairly targets minorities.

Police have made about 5 million stops of New Yorkers in the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. The trial, set to begin Monday, will include testimony from a dozen people who say they were targeted because of their race and from police whistleblowers who say they were forced into making slipshod stops by bosses who were too focused on numbers.

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‘‘When we say stop, question, and frisk, we’re not talking about a brief inconvenience on the way to work or school,’’ said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the lead attorney on the case. ‘‘We’re talking about a frightening, humiliating experience that has happened to many folks.’’

US District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about stop-and-frisk, is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal. But she does have the power to order changes, which could bring a major overhaul to how the police force and other departments use the tactic.

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