Advocates to De Blasio: Address Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Kevin Case/Flickr)

NEW YORK, NY — New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office published a statement this week disputing the findings of the Drug Policy Alliance report, “Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York.”

The report details that marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio continue to be marked by extremely high racial disparities, as was the case under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations.

Drug Policy Alliance New York State Director Kassandra Frederique issued the following statement in response:

Mayor de Blasio is not disputing the data published in our report, he is trying to spin his poor record to look as though he has made some progress.

In reality, New York City was the marijuana arrest capital of the world under Bloomberg and still holds that dubious title under de Blasio today.

The 18,000 arrests in 2016 alone and outrageous racial disparities are a disgrace to the city and a blight on the mayor’s record.

The unjust and racially-targeted arrests are devastating Black and Latino communities across the city.

The mayor’s efforts to discredit the report and the Drug Policy Alliance by calling us legalizers, is a desperate attempt to distract the public from the facts of his abysmal record. Our report is based on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Rather than attack his critics, the mayor should attack the problem of racially-targeted arrests.

For the record, the Drug Policy Alliance is committed to marijuana legalization to increase access for patients and end targeted policing in communities of color. And we’re not alone; nearly 60 percent of Americans also support legalization.

It’s time for the mayor to get out of the spin cycle and back to work. Over the past two decades, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably damaged by racially-targeted marijuana arrest policies.

The mayor must end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers now.

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