The terms civil rights and civil liberties are often used interchangeably; however, they are two very different concepts. For example, civil rights are granted to individuals via the federal government, through case law and various civil rights laws. Civil liberties on the other hand are freedoms afforded to individuals by way of the constitution.
Police have the power and ability to enforce the law. However, they cannot use excessive force when carrying out their duties. Under the United States Constitution, police in New York and elsewhere are limited in their ability to exert force depending on the situation and context.
The first civil rights bill -- the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 -- became law on April 9, 1966, when the House of Representatives overrode the veto of President Andrew Johnson. According to the language of the bill, "all persons born in the United States" were "declared to be citizens of the United States." It's important to note, however, that the bill did not provide citizenship to indigenous Americans.
Every person accused of a crime will remain innocent until -- and only if -- he or she is proved to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt in court. However, when police arrest someone for allegedly committing a crime, the individual will temporarily lose the right to freedom.
The Fourth Amendment is all about search and seizure and personal privacy as it applies to criminal law. If a law enforcement officer violates the Fourth Amendment in order to obtain evidence that will be used against you in criminal court, for example, this evidence may be thrown out and cannot be used against you.
Racial profiling by police in New York and throughout the United States is a serious problem. Statistics point to the fact that law enforcement officials frequently select who they will pull over or stop based on race, and if you are a member of certain racial or ethnic categories, you're far more likely to have an interaction with a local law enforcement officer.
New York City police officers perform the valuable public service of keeping us safe from criminal elements. However, there are times when police become overzealous in their application of the law, in addition to becoming overly violent. There are times when violent -- even lethal -- force is required by police to carry out their duties, and there are times when it's clearly not required.
Over 20 years ago, a teenager was shot and killed in the streets of the Bronx. Several states away, the New York Law Journal reports, Richard Rosario learned that he had been named as the murderer in the case. Despite the fact that Rosario was in Florida at the time of the altercation and there was no physical evidence to tie him to the case, two witnesses named him as the murderer after seeing his picture in a police photo book, and Rosario was convicted of second-degree murder and sent to jail. In June, 2016, investigators took the time to travel to Florida and interview a dozen alibis that Rosario named in the case originally and found that he was not guilty, allowing him to finally leave prison.