As much as we, and millions of tourists annually, seem to love New York City, there’s no hiding the serious discriminatory marijuana arrest problem in the Big Apple, which has the mayor pitching a fit—not because the problem exists, but because the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is pointing it out.
Using the same strategy of so many who hold public office these days, Mayor Bill de Blasio attempted to defend the shame of thousands of racially biased pot arrests in his city by attacking the messenger.
However, the numbers don’t lie.
The DPA commissioned a study from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project entitled: “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,” which showed that pot arrests under de Blasio, in office since 2014, display stunning racial disparities.
Although the results are not terribly unlike his predecessors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers expected more from de Blasio.
Using data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the DPA report showed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has continued to make large numbers of racially targeted pot busts.
Last year alone, the NYPD arrested more than 18,000 people for pot possession and a whopping 86 percent of them hit with low-level arrests were black or brown.
The demographics of New York City, by the way, are as follows: 8.5 million, of whom 2.4 million are Hispanics and 1.8 million are black. This means that half the city is white, yet only 14 percent of them are getting busted for weed.
These figures are consistent on a national level, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which points out that marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for possession, nationally.
In New York City, blacks are 13 times more likely to get arrested for weed than whites.
None of this is music to de Blasio’s ears, so he blasted the DPA as “legalizers,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
DPA New York State Director Kassandra Frederique said that “the mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us ‘legalizers’ is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record.”
The mayor’s office fired back, pointing to a 2014 policy ordering police officers to issue a summons instead of making an arrest for possession of less than 25 grams of pot.
That’s all fine, but the biased policing practices are the issue at hand.
“Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests,” Frederique said.
Even the New York Times jumped into the fray and criticized the startling statistics.
“These arrests have virtually no public safety benefit and can cause lasting damage to people who often have had no other contact with the criminal justice system,” the Times wrote. “The city needs to do more to minimize arrests.”
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