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Appeals Court Blocks Stop-And-Frisk Changes In New York


And now it's time for Back Talk. That's where we hear from you. Editor Ammad Omar is back with us once again. What's going on today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: All right, Michel, we have some news updates today and they're about some law-and-order stories we've been following on the show. We've talked a lot about New York's so-called stop-and-frisk policy. And under that policy - if you don't remember - New York City police stop and search people that they suspect might have been involved with some sort of crime. And the numbers show black and Hispanic New Yorkers are much more likely to be stopped than white people.

So federal judge Shira Scheindlin said the whole system basically amounts to racial profiling - that was back in August - and she ordered a court-appointed monitor to oversee the department's use of the program. But, Michel, that all went out the window yesterday. An appeals court put a stay on that ruling and then it took Judge Scheindlin off the case. They said her conduct made it seem like she wasn't impartial.

MARTIN: This is a story that we have followed closely, and I'm sure we will continue to do so. So anything else, Ammad?

OMAR: Yeah. Our next stop is Alabama, Michel. The state passed a law back in 2011 known as HB 56. A lot of people called that law the country's toughest crackdown on illegal immigration. Well, Alabama is now working to settle lawsuits over those rules. The state and the American Civil Liberties Union say they've reached an agreement that would end some of the most controversial restrictions in that law, including one rule requiring schools to check the immigration status of newly enrolled students between kindergarten and 12th grade.

Also, the ACLU says if the agreement goes through, state and local police officers couldn't detain people they suspect are in the country without proper immigration documents. And the agreement would also get rid of a rule that would make it a crime to offer rides to undocumented immigrants. Now those provisions were all blocked by a court at various points earlier in this process, Michel, and the judge still has to approve this settlement. Alabama would also have to kick in about $350,000 to cover legal fees for the groups that sued. So that's another story we're watching.

MARTIN: We certainly will. OK, anything else, Ammad?

OMAR: All right, final stop is Georgia. Last week, you talked about a young man named Kendrick Johnson, if you could remind us about that.

MARTIN: Yes. He was a 17-year-old high school student and he was found dead at his school in Valdosta, Georgia under very disturbing circumstances. He was in fact found rolled-up in a wrestling mat. And local authorities there initially said that there was no foul play. They suggested that he was trapped in the mat and suffocated after he had crawled in there to get a shoe that he had hidden there. But his parents said that that story doesn't hold up. And then what's happened, Ammad?

OMAR: Yeah, federal authorities now say that they're looking into the case. Just yesterday, U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said that he's going to conduct a formal review of facts and evidence in the case and if any evidence turns up to warrant a civil rights investigation, he will ask the FBI to take that up. So we'll keep an eye on that as well.

MARTIN: So finally, we have a comment from a listener.

OMAR: That's right. You spoke earlier this week with renowned poet Nikki Giovanni. She told you about her new book, her life and that she really isn't seeing the downside of being 70 years old. We're going to hear more from her in a minute when she tells us about her favorite songs, but I want to read this tweet from Candice Fortman (ph) in Detroit. She said, that interview on TELL ME MORE with Ms. Nikki Giovanni was awesome. She was a delight for my afternoon.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that Candice, and you are in luck because she will be delighting us once again in just a minute. And remember, we always want to hear from you. To tell us more, you can check us out on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We are @TellMeMoreNPR. Thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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