VICTORY: Marijuana Arrests in NYC
An update sent to members who joined our campaign launched in June 2011
September 28, 2011
Dear New York City ColorOfChange.org member,
There was exciting news late last week in our efforts to stop the New York City Police Department’s practice of making improper, racially-targeted arrests.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly ordered the NYPD to stop arresting people for small amounts of marijuana. Essentially, he demanded that officers start following a law that’s been on the books for more than three decades.
This summer, you and more than 5,000 other New Yorkers joined the campaign we launched with our partners at the Drug Policy Alliance and the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives. We called on Mayor Bloomberg to end the NYPD’s marijuana arrests crusade. Now, that’s exactly what’s happened. Because of the order Commissioner Kelly issued last week, possession of small amounts of marijuana will be treated as a ticketable offense, not a misdemeanor that leads to someone being arrested, fingerprinted and otherwise pushed into the criminal justice system. For years, police officers have refused to follow the letter of the law, illegally pulling the drug out of people’s clothing or asking them to empty their pockets, then charging them with having marijuana “in public view.” Now, this will have to stop.
Of course, we’ll need to stay vigilant and make sure police are following the law. Drug Policy Alliance’s Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann recently pointed out areas in Kelly’s order where the NYPD may be leaving loopholes, loose language that may allow them to still violate New Yorkers’ rights. One thing’s certain — while we just achieved an important victory, the NYPD still engages in questionable stop and frisk searches that disproportionately affect poor folks and young people of color, especially Black and Latino boys and men.
We hope you’ll continue to work with ColorOfChange.org as we take on inequality in the criminal justice system. Remember, our work is powered by you, our members. If you can support our work financially, in any amount, please click the link below.
Thanks and Peace,
-- Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 28th, 2011
1. "Police Commissioner Calls on NYPD to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests," WNYC, 9-23-11
2. "Stop NYPD’s racially targeted marijuana arrest crusade," ColorOfChange.org, 6-2-11
3. “Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance Responds to the Big NYPD Marijuana News,” Village Voice, 9-25-11
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