Advocates Say Finish the Arrests, Problem Carve-Outs in Mayor de Blasio’s New Marijuana Enforcement Plan

New York—Advocates, group organizations, and Council Members held a press convention and rally difficult Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD’s newly-announced marijuana enforcement coverage, urging the Mayor to finish racially biased marijuana arrests fully. The Mayor and NYPD Commissioner introduced the coverage shift yesterday within the fruits of their 30-day assessment interval to evaluate marijuana enforcement in NYC.
Resulting from exclusions within the Mayor’s new coverage, advocates raised considerations that racial disparities in marijuana arrests might proceed—and maybe enhance. They stood strongly against marijuana persevering with for use as a pretext for pointless NYPD interactions with group members.
Advocates emphasised that there isn’t a public security justification for arresting anybody for marijuana, particularly given the acute racial disparities in arrests that the 30-day assessment interval was meant to handle. Additional, advocates demanded that the Metropolis’s coverage shift take away any carve-outs (reminiscent of permitting NYPD to arrest folks on parole or probation for marijuana possession or smoking) and pushed again on insurance policies permitting marijuana to nonetheless be used as a pretext for any cease, harassment, or ID verify of group members.
Beneath the brand new NYPD coverage, marijuana can nonetheless be used as a instrument for legislation enforcement to criminalize probably the most weak New Yorkers: younger folks, non-citizen immigrants, people who find themselves homeless, and communities of colour.
“The affect of routine surveillance, stops, and arrests by police on younger folks is incontrovertibly damaging to their skill to proceed residing full lives, and sustaining their respect and dignity. Marijuana is commonly the excuse used to provoke pointless and life altering interactions between the police and younger folks. The Mayor’s new marijuana coverage will fall far wanting decriminalizing our neighborhoods and conserving younger folks out of a system that’s designed to lure them in cages. Marijuana will nonetheless be a pretext for stops in our communities and a prison summons will nonetheless entrap Black and Latinx youth within the prison authorized system,” mentioned Darian Agostini, Make The Highway New York.
“The carve outs primarily create a state of affairs the place officers nonetheless have broad discretion—which we all know doesn’t work and is an enormous issue driving the racial disparities now. We want clear-cut coverage saying no arrests, no justification for placing folks into the prison system—interval,” mentioned Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director, Drug Coverage Alliance. “Summonses generally is a backdoor into the prison justice system, as a result of an arrest warrant is issued for individuals who miss courtroom. This subject needs to be a civil matter—not a prison one.”
The carve-out permitting officers to nonetheless make an arrest if they’re unable to confirm an individual’s ID or handle is very problematic. People who find themselves homeless typically don’t have regular entry to identification paperwork and already face elevated criminalization—which once more calls into query the premise for such a carve-out. Organizations that work with younger folks spoke out that youth–who are one of many precept targets of present marijuana enforcement–might not possess ID persistently, and will due to this fact be topic to arrest and saddled with a prison report.
That exclusion might additionally affect noncitizen immigrants, who generally battle to acquire identification—and face extraordinarily excessive penalties for a misdemeanor arrest, together with deportation. Immigration activists juxtaposed this exclusion and criminalization with the Mayor’s touting of NYC as a sanctuary metropolis and claims that he’s shielding immigrants from ICE throughout the federal crackdown.
“Within the present political local weather, immigrant New Yorkers who’ve any contact with the police, particularly those that get arrested, threat triggering an ICE arrest. Beneath this NYPD coverage, immigrants with out ample identification can be arrested and positioned within the crosshairs of ICE. Those that have ID and are issued a summons should still face disproportionate, harsh immigration penalties; even a marijuana violation may end up in the deportation and everlasting separation of an immigrant from their household and group. We’re deeply disenchanted that this coverage continues to feed the deportation machine, undermining town’s dedication to defending immigrant communities,” mentioned Marie Mark, Supervising Legal professional, Immigrant Protection Challenge.
“NYC shouldn’t be actually a sanctuary metropolis if we criminalize folks due to their immigration standing, their lack of entry to identification, or their lack of economic sources,” mentioned Chris Alexander, coverage coordinator, Drug Coverage Alliance.
Public defenders took subject with the exemption for New Yorkers who’ve previous involvement with the prison justice system, who can be topic to arrest below the brand new coverage simply due to their history–even in the event that they’re making an attempt to maneuver on with their lives.
“I’ve PTSD from being in jail for 30 years and the one factor that helps me with nervousness and stress is marijuana, which I’m not allowed to make use of as a result of I’m on parole. It’s not proper that I can’t get the medication I would like, however different folks can, with none issues. It’s discrimination,” mentioned David Schermerhorn, a Group Chief with VOCAL-NY.
“Brooklyn Defender Providers has represented 1000’s of New Yorkers, largely folks of colour, who had been arrested and prosecuted, evicted from NYCHA, subjected to little one removing by ACS, denied skilled licenses, or put into deportation proceedings based mostly on private marijuana use. It’s time to finish these harsh penalties and restore the hurt. We help the Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act, however till it turns into legislation, the Metropolis ought to finish its punitive responses to marijuana use throughout companies. Within the meantime, we admire that District Legal professional Eric Gonzalez will transfer to vacate previous low-level marijuana convictions,” mentioned Lisa Schreibersdorf, Government Director of Brooklyn Defender Providers.
“The pronounced and longstanding racial disparity on this metropolis’s arrests for marijuana-related offenses is an affront to the idea of equal remedy below the legislation for all.  What most wants to vary is discriminatory policing that unfairly targets our indigent communities of colour; amending our marijuana coverage would take away what has been a key driver of that. Steps should even be taken to alleviate the hurt prompted to anybody unfairly focused up to now, reminiscent of these unduly burdened with a prison report for conduct society is more and more viewing as benign. New York County Defender Providers joins the decision for significant reform on this metropolis’s legislation enforcement marijuana coverage to handle this inequity,” mentioned Stan German, Government Director of New York County Defender Providers.
Folks arrested for a low-level marijuana offense will be saddled with a prison conviction that may make it troublesome to get and hold a job, preserve an expert license, acquire instructional loans, safe housing, and hold custody of a kid—exactly the collateral penalties that the Mayor and different Metropolis elected officers have acknowledged are extraordinarily damaging and mustn’t proceed.
“Invoice de Blasio informed ‘A Story of Two Cities’ at his mayoral marketing campaign kickoff, however he’s created a plan with carve-outs to make sure that enterprise continues as standard. Mr. Mayor, Black and brown folks from poor communities shouldn’t be town’s ticket to extra money — cease feeding us into the prison justice system and foster care via biased enforcement. We want a good, simply, and equitable NY,” mentioned Joyce McMillan, Little one Welfare Organizing Challenge.
Advocates confused that the damaging results of marijuana enforcement prolong past arrests and pushed the Mayor to additionally instruct NYC companies (NYCHA, Administration for Youngsters’s Providers, skilled licensing boards, and so on.) to handle the harms attributable to previous arrests and reform their insurance policies round marijuana.
“Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s reforms fall quick of what’s actually wanted to undue a long time of zealous and racially biased marijuana enforcement. New Yorkers of colour will nonetheless be marginalized by these proposed ‘carves outs,’ and our non-citizen purchasers additional threatened by the identification requirement. The proposal additionally doesn’t handle the large tradition shift that should happen at dozen of companies to eradicate collateral penalties that usually embrace eviction from NYCHA, misplaced youngsters to foster care, denial licenses and others nightmarish outcomes. Till full legalization involves New York, decriminalization efforts should not be reform in title solely,” mentioned Anthony Posada, Supervising Legal professional of the Group Justice Unit at The Authorized Help Society.
“If the mayor wished to create a plan to make racial disparities in marijuana enforcement worse, he’s completed it with this. By permitting the NYPD to create a plan that feeds off of and widens disparities within the prison justice system, Mayor de Blasio has failed to indicate management. The try to maneuver some arrests to summonses additionally does nothing to handle disparities. The de Blasio administration refuses to satisfy its dedication to publicly report the demographic knowledge on every explicit kind of summons, hiding the racial disparities within the summons system. Subsequently, all this plan will do is push the racial disparities to the summons system after which conceal them from the general public. The NYPD should cease its discriminatory concentrating on of sure New Yorkers for marijuana enforcement – that’s the way in which to finish the racial disparities.” mentioned Monifa Bandele, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform and Senior Vice President at MomsRising.
“New Yorkers, and particularly younger folks, mustn’t face prison prices for utilizing marijuana, interval,” mentioned Laurie Parise, Government Director of Youth Characterize. “To carve folks out based mostly on previous justice system involvement, which we all know from all the info and reporting out there is racially biased within the first place, undermines your complete purpose of lowering racial disparity in marijuana arrests.”
Metropolis Council Members who held hearings on marijuana enforcement earlier this 12 months and have steadily pressed the NYPD and Metropolis Corridor to reform marijuana enforcement additionally spoke out in opposition to the exclusions within the new coverage and the necessity to actually finish marijuana arrests for all New Yorkers:
“The Mayor’s new marijuana enforcement coverage is a marginal enchancment, however an actual missed alternative to essentially change how the Metropolis polices marijuana possession and smoking. The legalization practice in New York has left the station. The Mayor ought to get on it,” mentioned Council Member Rory I. Lancman.
“I be part of the Drug Coverage Alliance, my Metropolis Council Colleagues, advocacy teams, and group members in calling for the top of racist marijuana enforcement in New York,” mentioned Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “We will not ignore the toll that unjust policing practices and enforcement requirements are having on our communities of colour. The Mayor and the NYPD must cease tweaking inherently unhealthy insurance policies and totally halt the pursuit of prison motion in opposition to misdemeanor marijuana offenses; it’s time to stress our State legislature to legalize marijuana and start a sturdy dialogue of the small print relating to its regulation.”
“Regrettably, this marijuana enforcement coverage remix displays the Metropolis nonetheless has but to actually acknowledge the historic and basic racial bias that has disproportionately burdened of communities of colour,” mentioned Black, Latino and Asian Caucus co-chair Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “Ten thousand fewer arrests per 12 months will solely end in better numbers of summonses for these New Yorkers, together with the numerous who’ve already handed via the prison justice system and can possible be ensnared once more below the NYPD’s new tips. The Administration ought to return to the drafting board and work extra intentionally with stakeholders representing the women and men stricken by the unequal policing of marijuana to develop a wise coverage that satisfies the necessity for public security in a altering panorama however does not add to their hardship.”

“Marijuana needs to be totally legalized. Over a long time, tens of 1000’s of our neighbors, disproportionately lower-income New Yorkers of colour, have suffered the results of the over-policing of marijuana. So long as a prison framework is in place, these similar communities will proceed to endure. I stand able to work with officers on the state and native stage to understand a authorized, regulated system for adult-use marijuana in order that we are able to construct a fairer justice system and put money into our communities. That is the answer New Yorkers deserve,” mentioned New York Metropolis Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

“Marijuana criminalization has compelled numerous black and brown communities right into a damaged prison justice system that strives to bury them below a rug fairly than handle the crux of what plagues our communities, the jail industrial advanced. The Mayor’s current announcement reinforces the criminalization that has already ravaged our communities for many years and any Marijuana decriminalization that features a carve-out solely serves to perpetuate the very crimes in opposition to our communities that we search to handle,” mentioned Jorge Vasquez, Affiliate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

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