Film Recalls Humiliation of Oneonta 'Black List'

, New York Law Journal

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It all started with a phone call in 1992, when attorney Scott Fein was contacted by civil rights activists about a peculiar incident up in Oneonta, where police stopped every black person they could find in the little college town over a five day period.

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  • I‘d like to think we‘ve come a long way since 1992, but we have not. Interestingly, in my Criminal Law class at Columbia in 1990, we were studying a "probable cause" case, and a female student, in her best "valley girl" whine said that she was frightened when she saw small groups of young black men walking down the street, and would try to avoid them, and so she thought it was fine for police to stop them on that basis. Worse than the awful racism shown by her subjective beliefs, was her inability to distinguish, as a presumably bright student at a top law school, between her subject fears and legal probable cause. And yet, we‘ve just faced similar racial profiling here in NYC. In the words of Bob Dylan, wowee, pretty scary.

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