Although New York Mayor Bill de Blasio swore last year to eliminate the NYPD’s shakedown rampage on low-level marijuana offenders, drug policy experts find that not only has The Big Apple’s fearless leader failed to uphold his promise, but the arrest rates for minor pot offenses have increased.
A report published earlier this week by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project finds that since Mayor de Blasio took office, specifically the time between March and August of 2014, more busts for minor pot possession have taken place than during the same timeframe last year under the guidance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“President Obama, Governor Cuomo, former Mayor Ed Koch and candidate Bill de Blasio all strongly criticized the NYPD’s racist marijuana possession arrests,” study author and professor at Queens College Harry Levine said in a statement. “Yet the most progressive mayor in the modern history of New York is unable to stop them? Really?”
While Mayor de Blasio led a successful campaign preaching to voters about the perils of racially biased law enforcement, as well as the need to uphold the state’s 1977 decision to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, this message does not translate in the latest report. The data, which was compiled using statistics from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice, shows the NYPD is still busting Latinos at a rate of nearly four times more than whites, while arresting blacks at a rate of about seven times more than whites.
An analysis of the report indicates that the majority of the arrests are going down in black and Latino neighborhoods, a trend that Kassandara Frederique, New York Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, believes should no longer exist in 2014.
“New Yorkers made it clear that Black lives mattered when they voted for the mayoral candidate that supported ending bias policing practices, including racist marijuana arrests,” she said. “It is time for that mayoral candidate to become the mayor and order his police commissioner to end these wasteful marijuana arrests now.”
The study authors concluded that it is time for the City Council to step in and force the Mayor and the Commissioner to work together on resolving this issue once and for all.