Out of more than 500 arraignments observed in Manhattan and Brooklyn courts between last October and March of this year, about 88% involved black or Hispanic defendants arrested for low-level Broken Windows offenses like disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, or an open container, according to a report issued Friday by the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP). In one case, a black man was sentenced to 12 days on Rikers for farebeating. In another, a mentally ill man was sentenced to 60 days on Rikers for allegedly stealing $3.00 in change from a parked car with an open door.

In a city committed to cracking down on petty crimes, PROP's latest findings are not revelatory. PROP has conducted months-long surveys of NYC arraignments four times since 2014, and of the total 1,880 cases seen, 91% have been brought against people of color. According to NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services data, 87% of NYPD misdemeanor arrests in the first nine months of last year involved people of color.

For this latest report [PDF], PROP head Robert Gangis homed in on the fact that out of 498 cases, 479, or 96.2% of them, resulted in the defendant walking out of the courtroom. During two court visits where PROP was able to keep time, the average amount of time spent on each case was less than three minutes. "The point we're making is that nobody considers these people dangerous or predatory," Gangis said. "In many cases the arrests are frivolous and innocuous, and many of the defendants are homeless or mentally ill. They can't push back politically."

Gangis hashes this up in part to the department's reliance on quotas, or a minimum number of mandatory stops per officer. A report filed in February by attorney Peter Zimroth, the federal monitor tasked with assessing the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisks, found that while officers now feel less pressure to reach quotas, some are still evaluated in part by the number of stops they make.

The same report found that of 600 street stops documented over the course of three months in 2015, almost a third were unconstitutional, lacking reasonable suspicion for the stop.

In an effort to humanize these statistics, PROP conferred with several defendants and their attorneys about the circumstances of their arrests. All of the stories below allegedly occurred under de Blasio's tenure, and Gangi notes that he works hard to ensure that they are credible.

Police officers in Manhattan arrested a homeless man late at night on the subway on the charge of, as the court officer read out loud, "occupying multiple seats on the subway.” The judged issued an ACD & let the man walk out of the court room. A PROP representative followed him out & tried to talk with him. Unsteady on his feet, the man said apologetically that he could barely stand up & that he was withdrawing from his alcohol habit. When asked where he was going & where would he stay, the man said that he was going to "ride the trains.”

Police officers arrested a young man for dancing on the subway, the official charge being "unlawful solicitation.” The youth explained that the NYPD also arrested a friend that danced with him on the train -- the officers released the friend on a ACD, but held the young man that we spoke with because he had an outstanding warrant for drinking a beer in front of his building. He also related that the police have arrested him several times for subway dancing & that the judge always releases him with an ACD.

Police officers arrested a homeless woman for the second time in a week for sleeping in the machine room of an apartment building where the janitorial staff had befriended her & let her use the unoccupied room. She was an addict who was afraid to stay at a shelter & who had been trying unsuccessfully to find a rehab program that would help her. The NYPD provided her with no assistance to meet either need.

Police officers arrested a black man for smoking in an unauthorized space. He was descending stairs to a subway & threw out his cigarette butt on a step on the way down. When he reached the station, 2 officers stopped him, requested his ID which he gave them, and charged him with the smoking violation. After running a check on him, they cuffed and arrested him and brought him to the local precinct in Harlem. An officer there explained that he was arrested as a "transit recidivist" because of a previous subway- related offense. The offense was a farebeating infraction from 1986, 29 years ago when he was a teenager and was charged with a fine that he paid. Initially the police confined the man in a holding cell with 10 or 11 African-American & Latino men who officers had arrested on charges like "sleeping on the subway" & "walking between 2 subway cars.” The man was locked up for 2 days before appearing at arraignment before a judge who sentenced him to time served & let him walk out of the courtroom.

Police in Brooklyn gave an open alcohol container summons to a woman of color who was sitting on a stoop with 4 white friends. Although she was not holding the beer can, the police singled her out, asking only her for an ID & ticketing only her.

Officers arrested a mentally ill man who was living in a homeless shelter for stealing $3.00 in change from a car whose door was open. The car's owner had called the police when he saw the man inside the car because he thought the man was trying to steal the vehicle. By the time the police arrived, he did not want to press charges, but it was too late. As a painful follow up, the court handed down a harsh penalty: 60 days on Rikers Island.

Two officers pulled over a Bronx man in his car, but apparently did not know why. The man left his phone video camera on while the police put him in their cruiser. "I don't even know why we pulled him over", one officer says. "Just the (unintelligible) cocaine test," the other officer replies. "That's what you put," the first officer laughs. “That’s how you write the summons." The only thing that the officers found in the car was an uneaten cookie. "I felt as though they pulled me over & abused me for sport," the man said.

Police officers arrested an African-American man in Brooklyn on the charge of walking an unleashed dog. The man was standing in front of his building with his 2 dogs, one on a leash standing next to him and the other in his arms. The officers justified their arrest on the fact that the pet that the man was holding did not have a leash attached.

In March, the NYPD announced that it would issue summonses instead of making arrests for most low-level offenses like open containers and public urination—but in Manhattan only. And a new series of bills would give police officers the discretion to steer certain low-level broken windows offenses like drinking in public, littering, and public urination to civil court, rather than criminal court. Some advocates object that it still empowers the NYPD to stop and ID citizens for those same offenses.