Racism persists in New York City. You can tell by looking at marijuana arrest records. This is not new, but arrest rates of young black and Latino males (for small amounts of marijuana) are higher than in any other city in the world.
What’s going on?
An article entitled “No Progress on Marijuana Arrests” appeared last week in the New York Times.
It explains that low-level marijuana arrest records for public possession started going down in the 1970s and then climbed back up, up, UP again. There were fewer than 1,000 arrests for possession of trivial amounts of marijuana in 1990, yet this number grew to 50,000 in 2011.
It did drop to 28,600 arrests in 2013, but that number of arrests for trivial amounts of marijuana still remains greater than ANY city in the world.
Why? What happened?
In the 1970’s police were better at following the law which dictated that arrests were not supposed to be made unless marijuana was being smoked or displayed in public. So, by the year 2011 police found a way around that and were (illegally) tricking people (primarily young black and Latino men) into emptying their pockets –and then charging them with “public possession”.
Over 86% of the people arrested were black and Latino men and 75% of them had no prior criminal convictions.
The article offers up an explanation based on a Marijuana Arrest Research Project and Drug Policy Alliance report. The reason given: “police officers patrolling white neighborhoods typically do not search the vehicles and pockets of white citizens”.
Institutionalized racism persists despite our efforts. Perhaps this article will help people who think racism is a thing of the past to understand how this situation can persist.
You can read the entire article HERE