Starting yesterday, the NYPD must publish marijuana arrest demographics under new bill. These statistics will be posted on the New York Police Department website.
The Significance of Publishing Arrest Demographics
The U.S. has a long history of racism in the form of over-policing Black and Latino communities. This bill aims to put a stop to racially motivated policing in New York, where recreational marijuana is still illegal.
At a hearing, the City Council heard evidence that substantiated discrimination against racial minorities in NYPD arrests. Today, 86 percent of people arrested for marijuana are Black or Latino. This doesn’t make sense when, according to the 2010 decennial census, only 52 percent of the population of New Yorker is Black or Latino.
A recent report found that racial minorities are ten times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana. The report also put forth that each ethnicity uses marijuana about the same amount, making the disparity in arrests even more striking.
NYPD spokesman Peter Donald says that the police show up where other illegal behavior occurs and where they receive complaints.
Donald explains, “We have an obligation—as the police—to be responsive. That’s our job. If we didn’t respond to complaints, like 911 calls, 311 calls or individual contacts from the community, we would be rightfully called to task.”
Who Supported The Bill
City Councilman Steve Levin, who was the prime sponsor for bill Intro. 605-A, calls the NYPD’s explanation “totally unacceptable.”
Levin also supports legalizing weed in New York. He believes that, in terms of low level marijuana arrests, “there should be zero.”
New York mayor Bill de Blasio ran on a platform of evening out the racial disparity in arrests. He described police racism as “unjust and wrong.”
Since the mayor’s election, marijuana arrests have decreased but the racial bias remains constant. De Blasio has not said whether he would sign the bill into law.
When presented with the findings of these reports, the New York City Council unanimously voted in favor of the bill.
More Details About The Report
The decision that the NYPD must publish marijuana arrest demographics under new bill will mean that everyone will have access to police arrest data.
Through the NYPD website, you’ll be able to read a quarterly report of low-level marijuana possession arrests and summonses. The report will divide the data by borough and precinct, and will take gender, race and age into account.
Bill Intro. 605-A will go into effect sixty days after the mayor ratifies it.
Final Hit: NYPD Must Publish Marijuana Arrest Demographics Under New Bill
This bill is a big step in holding the police accountable for racist discrepancies in low-level marijuana arrests. It also has citizens and lawmakers wondering why there are any marijuana arrests at all in New York City.
Though the mayor does not support legalization, two City Council Members, Speaker Corey Johnson and bill sponsor Peter Donald, have publicly supported marijuana legalization.
Perhaps proving the racist bias of marijuana inherent in marijuana policing is the first step towards legalization in New York. Perhaps it’s time to elect more weed-friendly politicians in the empire state.