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Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic

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They sit in courtroom pews, almost all of them young black men, waiting their turn before a New York City judge to face a charge that no longer exists in some states: possessing marijuana. They tell of smoking in a housing project hallway, or of being in a car with a friend who was smoking, or of lighting up a Black & Mild cigar the police mistake for a blunt.

There are many ways to be arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York: The primary targets are black and Hispanic people.

Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years, The New York Times found. Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.

With crime dropping and the Police Department under pressure to justify the number of low-level arrests it makes, a senior police official recently testified to lawmakers that there was a simple reason for the racial imbalance: More residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods were calling to complain about marijuana.
An analysis by The Times found that fact did not fully explain the racial disparity. Instead, among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents, The Times found.

In Brooklyn, officers in the precinct covering Canarsie arrested people on marijuana possession charges at a rate more than four times as high as in the precinct that includes Greenpoint, despite residents calling 311, the city’s help line, and 911 to complain about marijuana at the same rate, police data show. The Canarsie precinct is 85 percent black. The Greenpoint precinct is 4 percent black.

In Queens, the marijuana arrest rate is more than 10 times as high in the precinct covering Queens Village as it is in precinct that serves Forest Hills. Both got marijuana complaints at the same rate, but the Queens Village precinct is just over half black, while the one covering Forest Hills has a tiny portion of black residents.

And in Manhattan, officers in a precinct covering a stretch of western Harlem make marijuana arrests at double the rate of their counterparts in a precinct covering the northern part of the Upper West Side. Both received complaints at the same rate, but the precinct covering western Harlem has double the percentage of black residents as the one that serves the Upper West Side.

The Times’s analysis, combined with interviews with defendants facing marijuana charges, lawyers and police officers, paints a picture of uneven enforcement. In some neighborhoods, officers expected by their commanders to be assertive on the streets seize on the smell of marijuana and stop people who are smoking. In others, people smoke in public without fear of an officer passing by or stopping them.

 

Black neighborhoods often contend with more violent crime, and the police often deploy extra officers there, which can lead to residents being exposed more to the police.

“More cops in neighborhoods means they’re more likely to encounter somebody smoking,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who also advised The Times on its marijuana-arrest analysis.

But more officers are historically assigned to black neighborhoods than would be expected based on crime rates, according to a study by Professor Fagan. And research has found “there is no good evidence” that marijuana arrests in New York City are associated with reductions in serious crime.

Officers who catch someone smoking marijuana are legally able to stop and search that person and check for open warrants. Some defense lawyers and criminologists say those searches and warrant checks are the real impetus for enforcing marijuana laws more heavily in some neighborhoods.

The analysis by The Times shows that at least some quality-of-life arrests have more to do with the Police Department’s strategies than with residents who call for help, undermining one of the arguments the police have used to defend mass enforcement of minor offenses in an era of declining serious crime.

The analysis examined how marijuana arrests were related to the marijuana-complaint rate, race, violent-crime levels, the poverty rate and homeownership data in each precinct. It also considered the borough where an arrest took place to account for different policing practices across the city. The arrests represent cases in which the most serious charge against someone was low-level marijuana possession.

Government surveys have shown that black and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rate. Marijuana smoke wafts down streets all over the city, from the brownstones in upper-middle-class areas of Manhattan to apartment buildings in working-class neighborhoods in other boroughs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in late 2014 that the police would largely give summonses instead of making arrests for carrying personal marijuana, and reserve arrests mainly for smoking in public. Since then, the police have arrested 17,500 people for marijuana possession on average a year, down from about 26,000 people in 2014, and issued thousands of additional summonses. Overall, arrests have dropped sharply from their recent peak of more than 50,000 during some years under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

About 87 percent of those arrested in recent years have been black or Hispanic, a proportion that has remained roughly the same for decades, according to research led by Harry G. Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College.

“What you have is people smoking weed in the same places in any neighborhood in the city,” said Scott Levy, a special counsel to the criminal defense practice at the Bronx Defenders, who has studied marijuana arrests. “It’s just those neighborhoods are patrolled very, very differently. And the people in those neighborhoods are seen very differently by the police.”

Responding to The Times’s analysis, the Police Department said pockets of violent crime — and the heavier deployments that result — push up marijuana arrests in some neighborhoods. J. Peter Donald, an assistant commissioner in the department’s public information office, also said more people smoke in public in some neighborhoods than others, driving up arrests. He said 911 and 311 complaints about marijuana had increased in recent years.

 

Appearing before the City Council in February, Chief Dermot F. Shea said, “The remaining arrests that we make now are overlaid exactly in the parts of the city where we are receiving complaints from the public.” He asked, “What would you have the police do when people are calling?”

Police data do show that neighborhoods with many black and Hispanic residents tend to generate more 311 and 911 complaints about marijuana. Criminal justice reform advocates said that is not because more people are smoking marijuana in those areas. Rather, people in poor neighborhoods call the police because they are less likely to have a responsive landlord, building superintendent or co-op board member who can field their complaints.

Rory Lancman, a councilman from Queens who pressed police officials for the marijuana data at the February hearing, said with the police still arresting thousands of people for smoking amid a widespread push for reform, the police “blame it on the communities themselves because they’re the ones calling on us.”

The city’s 77 precincts, led by commanders with their own enforcement priorities, show erratic arrest patterns. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for example, the police made more than twice as many marijuana arrests last year as in 2016, despite receiving roughly the same number of annual complaints. And in a precinct covering a section of northwestern Harlem, arrests dropped to 90 last year from almost 700 a year earlier, even though complaints fell only slightly from one year to the next.

Criticism of marijuana arrests provided fuel for Mr. de Blasio’s campaign for mayor in 2013, when he won promising to “reverse the racial impact of low-level marijuana arrests.” The next year the new Brooklyn district attorney, Ken Thompson, defied the Police Department and said his office would stop prosecuting many low-level marijuana arrests.

Yet the disparities remain. Black and Hispanic people are the main targets of arrests even in mostly white neighborhoods. In the precinct covering the southern part of the Upper West Side, for example, white residents outnumber their black and Hispanic neighbors by six to one, yet seven out of every 10 people charged with marijuana possession in the last three years are black or Hispanic, state data show. In the precinct covering Park Slope, Brooklyn, where a fifth of the residents are black or Hispanic, three-quarters of those arrested on marijuana charges are black or Hispanic.

The question of how to address those disparities has divided Democratic politicians in New York. Cynthia Nixon, who is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has vowed to legalize marijuana and clear people’s arrest records. Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo have been reluctant to support the same measures.

In Criminal Court in Brooklyn on a recent Monday, the people waiting in the crowded pews to be arraigned on marijuana charges were almost all black men. In interviews, some declined to give their full names for fear of compounding the consequences of their arrests.

They had missed work or school, sometimes losing hundreds of dollars in wages, to show up in court — often twice, because paperwork was not ready the first time. Their cases were all dismissed so long as they stayed out of trouble for a stretch, an indication of what Scott Hechinger, a senior staff lawyer and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, said was the low value the court system places on such cases.

Eli, 18, said he had been smoking in a housing project hallway because his parents preferred him to keep it out of the apartment. Greg, 39, said he had not even been smoking himself, but was sitting in his car next to his wife, who he said smokes marijuana to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

“They do it because that’s the easiest way to arrest you,” Greg said.

Rashawn Nicol, 27, said officers found his female friend holding a lit blunt on a third-floor stairwell landing in a Brooklyn housing project. They backed off arresting her once she started crying, he said, but said they needed to bring their supervisor an arrest because he had radioed over a noise complaint. “Somebody’s got to go down for this,” Mr. Nicol said an officer told him. So they let her go, but arrested him.

Several people asked why the police hound residents for small-time infractions like marijuana in more violent neighborhoods, but are slow to follow up about serious crimes. “The resources they waste for this are ridiculous,” Mr. Nicol said.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/13/nyregion/marijuana-arrests-nyc-race.html action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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Driver with head full of racist tattoos gets into car accident with deliveryman on bike

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A man with a head full of racist tattoos — including one that reads “AM A PSYCHOTIC NEO NAZI SERIAL KILLER SKIN HEAD FOREVER FOREVER” — got into a car accident with an Asian deliveryman on a bicycle in Brooklyn on Monday night, authorities said.

The heavily inked motorist was behind the wheel of a U-Haul cargo van when he collided with the rider aboard an electric bike on Broadway near Gerry Street, in front of the Food Bazaar Supermarket in Williamsburg, at about 9:30 p.m., authorities said.

Despite the man’s tats — which also included one that reads in all caps “I hate s–cs n—ers Indians Lebians women” — police said the crash appeared to be an accident and no charges were filed.

“I saw them take the guy (bicyclist) away. I think he was bleeding — middle-aged,” a witness said. “I think he was really injured.”

The bicyclist was rushed to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan in critical condition. He’s expected to survive.

The driver remained at the scene of the accident and answered questions from police.

The man — who declined to comment — passed a field sobriety test and has a clean criminal and driving record, law enforcement sources said. Neither his identity nor that of the victim was released.

by William Lopez

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Trump criticism supports far-right Germans against Angela Merkel

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Trump criticism supports far-right Germans against Angela Merkel

Trump is pushing away such an ally as Germany. His attacks on immigration policy of this country have put the US in a very strange position in front of many countries.

Residents of the United States are in bewilderment, for at the moment, the question of thousands of children who were separated from their parents at the border without documents is very actual, and Trump seems to be more focused on the immigration policy of a completely different continent.

“We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!” said Trump.

But the media around the world reacted sharply to these words, pointing out that according to the report of the German Interior Ministry, the criminal situation in the country is at the lowest level since 1990.

The Ministry is now headed by Horst Seehofer (born July 4, 1949, Ingolstadt) – German state and political figure, Minister President of Bavaria (2008-2018); President of the Bundesrat (from November 1, 2011 to 1 November 2012); Federal Minister for Health and Social Security from 1992 to 1998 in the cabinet of Chancellor Helmut Kohl; Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the cabinet of Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2008; Chairman of the CSU since 2008. Since the CSU was unable to form a one-party government for the first time in many years, the office of Seehofer was formed thanks to a coalition with the FDP. After the victory of CSU in the elections to the Landtag in 2013, Seehofer headed the one-party government of Bavaria. Since March 14, 2018, he is the German Minister of the Interior. Horst Seehofer is currently an ally of Merkel.

Seehofer’s CSU, based in conservative Bavaria, is threatened this autumn by the rise of the Alternative for Deutschland, AfD, a far-right party deeply opposed to refugees from Muslim countries that Merkel has brought in as a Western response to the continuing violence in Syria.

Trump himself is not popular in Germany. And although he said that he had “excellent” relations with Merkel, his sharp attacks towards the Chancellor were not ignored. Deputy Armin Paul commented on this situation “He is a businessman”.

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XXXTENTACION DEAD AT 20 … SHOT IN S. FLORIDA

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DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday in Florida in what police called an apparent robbery attempt. Investigators don’t have a motive, and no arrests have been made.

The 20-year-old rising star, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. He was shot earlier outside a Deerfield Beach motorcycle dealership.

XXXTentacion had been at RIVA Motorsports checking out inventory, sheriff’s public information officer Keyla Concepcion said. He was in a black BMW i8 and preparing to leave before 4 p.m. when two armed suspects approached him. At least one of them fired, and then both suspects fled the scene in a dark SUV, Concepcion said.

Stephanie Martinez, a 29-year-old mother who lives in the neighborhood, was just coming back from the pool with her kids when she heard three shots. She drove to the end of the street and saw the rapper’s body in the car.

“He has his mouth open and his hand out. Two people went over and checked his pulse,” said Martinez, who also saw blood. “It’s just weird because he should’ve had security and stuff with him.”

On Twitter, his peers expressed shock and sadness.

Kanye West said: “rest in peace … I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.” Producer Diplo posted a photo of the two together and said, “Thanks for inspiring me.” Travis Barker tweeted: “I’m at a loss for words… speechless #RIPXXXTentacion Loved collaborating with you. You were a true artist …”

And J. Cole said, in part: “RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”

The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and a number of facial tattoos, was a rising star and notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort “?” and had a top 10 hit with “Sad!” but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.

XXXTentacion racked up huge streaming numbers — on Spotify, his “Sad!” had more than 270 million streams and was on its Top 50 chart this week in the United States and globally. He also has several songs that have been declared platinum, including “Changes,” ”Roll in Peace” with fellow rapper Kodak Black and “Look at Me!”

In interview with XXL magazine, which named him an up-and-coming artist last year, the rapper cited Nirvana, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur among his musical influences.

“Obviously, I’m one of the greatest of this generation, the upcoming generation, as far as artistry. … And I say that humbly,” he said in a video interview with the outlet last year.

But much of his brief career had been mired in controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was arrested on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, and was jailed, and later faced more charges including witness tampering.

Regarding a June 2017 attack at a San Diego concert, the following messages were posted on XXXTentacion’s Twitter account: “security and venue set me up, I got sucker punched and knocked out, it is what it is.”

A subsequent tweet said,” ”next time make sure you kill me so I can’t talk (expletive).”

He was released from jail on house arrest late last year and was released from house arrest earlier this year to allow him to tour.

Fan Wyatt Rubin, 21, jumped in his car and headed to the scene shooting Monday as soon as he heard, playing the rapper’s songs like “Jocelyn Flores” and “King” on the drive over.

“He was just maturing as a person and as an artist … it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Rubin said. “A lot of it was really beautiful music, progressive music.'”

In an interview earlier this month with the Miami New Times, XXXTentacion described his upbringing, which included seeing his mother infrequently and being raised by friends, other family and babysitters. His mother would buy him clothes, phones and other gifts. He told the paper he used violence so she would engage with him.

“I used to beat kids at school just to get her to talk to me, yell at me,” he said.

XXXTentacion was initially one of two artists Spotify removed from its promoted playlists in May in accordance with its new policy on hateful music and conduct. But after a backlash in the music industry, Spotify backpedaled and said it would no longer attempt to police conduct and restored XXXTentacion to its playlists (although they did not do the same for R. Kelly).

While he made headlines for his legal woes, he connected to millions of fans musically. Among the topics he spoke about was depression and addressed it in his music.

In one video posted to social media, he said: “If worse things come to worse, I (expletive) die a tragic death or some (expletive), and I’m not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceive my message and were able to make something of themselves.”

He continued later: “I appreciate and love all of you and I believe in you all; do not let your depression make you, do not let your body define your soul, let your soul define your body. Your mind is limitless ….you are worth more than you can believe.”

from fox35 website

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