Press Release  | 08/16/2011

Wednesday Press Conference: City Council Members, Community Groups to Call for End to NYC's Racially Biased, Costly Marijuana Arrest Crusade

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New City Council Resolution Highlights Illegal Searches, Targeting of Youth of Color, and $75 Million Wasted on Marijuana Arrests; Calls for Albany to Pass Bi-Partisan Reform Legislation

Resolution Comes on Heels of Mayor Bloomberg's New Initiative to Keep Young Black and Latino Men out of Criminal Justice System; Simply Following Intent of Existing NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law of 1977 Would Significantly Reduce Arrests of Young Men of Color

NEW YORK: On Wednesday August 17 at 10 a.m., a group of City Council members are introducing a Resolution calling for an end to the racially biased, costly marijuana arrest crusade in NYC. The Resolution calls on the Legislature to pass the bipartisan proposal to fix the law ( S.5187 - Grisanti)/A.7620 – Jeffries).

What: Press conference introducing City Council resolution to end racially biased, costly marijuana arrests.

Who: Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries, City Council members including Melissa Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez,  Jumanne Williams; Community Leaders, Legal Experts, People Illegally Searched and Falsely Arrested, and more

When: Wednesday August 17, 2011 – 10 a.m.

Where: City Hall Steps (NYC)

Why: Over 50,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2010, despite marijuana possession being decriminalized in 1977.

  • Extreme racial bias: 86% of those arrested are Black and Latino despite whites using marijuana at higher rates.
  • Targeting Youth of Color: Over 70% of those arrested are between 16 – 29 years old, mostly young Black and Latino men.
  • Illegal searches and false charges: the NYPD is illegally searching people or "tricking" people to show them the marijuana in their pockets so they can arrest them for public possession
  • Fiscal Waste: $75 Million a year being spent on these marijuana arrests, while essential social services are being cut or eliminated.

The resolution comes on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg's launch of a $130 million initiative to assist Black and Latino young men, especially around issues of criminal justice involvement – and he's contributing over $30 million of his own money to this endeavor. Meanwhile, NYPD continues to arrest tens of thousands of Black and Latino young men every year for possession of small amounts of marijuana – the arrests are too often the result of illegal searches, and the charges are often false. The Mayor could take a dramatic step towards helping Black and Latino young men by simply ending the illegally, racially biased and costly marijuana arrest crusade.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264

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