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Sept. 14 | Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott | Newark, NJ

More Whites Smoke Weed, But NYC Spent $440M Targeting Blacks and Latinos

Are Police in NYC Targeting Blacks, Latinos for Drug Possession?

New York City cops intentionally are targeting Black and Latino youth for marijuana possession, according to a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance.  The data suggest that the NYPD, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, is acting on racial bias to inequitably arrest Black and Latinos for marijuana possession—an initiative that’s wasting both valuable taxpayer dollars and more than 1 million hours of police time.

The “One Million Police Hours” study, prepared by Queens College professor Dr. Harry Levine, quantifies that NYPD personnel have made 440,000 arrests (estimated at $1,000 to $2,000 or more a pop) over the last decade and held individuals in police custody for approximately 5 million hours, costing the city a grand total of at least $440 million dollars—the report says estimates can exceed $1 billion.

A 1977 law that decriminalized marijuana possession for amounts of less than one ounce gave police authority to arrest and charge anyone if the marijuana is in public view. It’s a loophole that police have used during stop-and-frisks, which require a person to empty the contents of their pockets or bags, and are used frequently to target Blacks and Latinos.

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies also are being evaluated in the Floyd v. City of New York trial, which argues the motives and definition of “probable cause” searches.

Bamboozle Arrests Total 85 Percent Blacks, Latinos

The people arrested? Eighty-five percent were Blacks or Latinos, with 50 percent under the age of 21. This is despite research that shows the majority of marijuana users are whites.

The report reads: “We agree with Governor Cuomo who said in his 2013 State of the State address, ‘These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end, and it must end now.’”

Neither the NYPD nor Bloomberg has responded to the report or the accusations of racial bias.

Bloomberg announced in February a slight change to the marijuana arrest policy and a reduction in the legal consequences: Those in possession of low levels of marijuana (25 grams or less) will not need to remain jailed overnight.

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8 Comments

  • Paul M Smith

    More Whites Smoke Weed, But NYC Spent $440M Targeting [and arresting] Blacks and Latinos. And we all know why.

  • joseph murph

    bloomberg was nothing but a racist. He had no connection to the core people of this city. police officers often use any loophole to procure an arrest. Often these arrest, an indicated, of people of color are designed to ruin the their lives. Then these poor people are in the ever revolving door of the criminal justice system. Whites never face these issues. These practices must stop, before it starts to turn on those who created it.

  • John Morris

    Activities like this generate police dept profits.

    Poor minorities and immigrants are much less likely to afford lawyers and bail, know their rights or defend themselves. Drug stops open up the opportunity to seize property without a trial.

    Estimates are that police departments steal about $4 billion in property a year through this process, mostly from minorities and the poor. Google, NYPD civil forfeiture for more info.

  • DamonCold

    This is liberal biased bullshit…… another article to keep the racial tension going….

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