Protest Against Marijuana Arrests Can’t Smoke Bloomberg Out of His Mansion

Fed up with Mayor Bloomberg’s aggressive marijuana arrest policies, a group of community leaders, City Council members, and other concerned citizens held a demonstration yesterday on the block where Mayor Bloomberg resides on the Upper East Side. As we’ve repeatedly noted, NYC is the “marijuana arrest capital of the world,” and the number of low-level pot arrests during the Bloomberg administration is greater than in the 12 years of Mayor Koch, plus the four years of Mayor Dinkins, plus the first two years of Mayor Giuliani combined.

140 people are arrested every day for marijuana possession in NYC, according to stats released by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services—despite the fact that possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana was decriminalized 30 years ago, provided it’s not burning or in public view. Critics say cops conducting stop and frisks trick “suspects” into bringing their marijuana into public view, thus justifying an arrest. At yesterday’s demonstration, City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said, “It’s a corruption of the intent of the law. That cannot stand. It should not stand. And again what we are seeing is young people under the age of 30 being criminalized unnecessarily. And at the end of the day it’s an inefficient use of our city resources.”

86% of those arrested for low-level marijuana possession in NYC are Black and Latino, despite studies showing whites smoke marijuana at higher rates. Jesse Levine at the Marijuana Arrest Research Project attended yesterday’s protest, and writes, “The Drug Policy Alliance distributed data showing that in 2010 the police made only 34 of the city’s 50,000 pot possession arrests in the white, wealthy neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. But in the overwhelmingly black, Latino and low-income neighborhood of East New York in Brooklyn, the NYPD made 3,309 of these arrests—97 times more than in Bloomberg’s neighborhood.”

Councilwoman Jumaane Williams said, “We wasted between $50-$100 million alone last year arresting individuals for low-level marijuana violations, all at a time where the Mayor proposes cutting essential services to our children and seniors.” Bloomberg—who famously told New York during his mayoral campaign, “You bet I did [smoke pot], and I enjoyed it.”—probably would have liked to come out to speak with the protesters, but we hear he was busy in his private screening room enjoying Dark Side of the Oz.

– Article originally from The Gothamist.