New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been busily arresting record numbers of young men — especially young men of color — for the past decade. Now, with the so-called “Young Men’s Initiative,” Bloomberg claims he suddenly wants to “help” them instead of throwing them in jail.
Mayor Bloomberg was asked, shortly before he first ran for office, if he had ever smoked marijuana. “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it,” he answered.
While that quote became the basis of a NORML ad campaign, it certainly didn’t make any difference on the future Mayor’s practice of aggressively going after marijuana users in the Big Apple. Mayor Bloomberg made New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the world.
|Drug Policy Alliance and Harry Levine
|New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual average of low-level pot arrests is greater than all of Mayor Koch’s, Dinkins’s, and the first two years of Giuliani’s — combined.
Marijuana was decriminalized in New York state back in 1977, so what’s going on? Well, you see, NYPD officers don’t mind lying a little. They ask pot suspects, “What’s that in your pockets. Pull it out.” Once they come out with the marijuana, they are busted for ‘marijuana in plain view,’ which, you guessed it, is a jailable offense.
And these weren’t just random pot busts. There was some profiling going on, judging by the makeup of those arrested. The arrestees were overwhelmingly young men of color.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, of more than 600,000 New Yorkers stopped and frisked last year, 317,642 were African-American (53 percent) and 190,491 were Latino (32 percent). Just 55,083 (9 percent) were white. About 70 percent were under 30, and 90 percent were male.
“And now it has come out that the most over-policed, harassed, questionably searched, often illegally arrested New Yorkers are exactly the citizens the mayor suddenly wants to ‘help,’ writes Steven Thrasher in a major new piece you dont want to miss at the Village Voice