More than 50 activists gathered near the mayor’s home and protested the 50,000 city arrests made last year for possession of small amounts of marijuana. They said officers purposefully target people of color, claiming that 85 percent of those arrested are black or Latino.
Some accused the New York City Police Department of tricking people into showing marijuana during stop and frisks in order to charge them with a misdemeanor instead of just an infraction.
“It’s a corruption of the intent of the law,” said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. “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.”
Police standing guard in front of Bloomberg’s home keep the protesters more than half a block away. Bloomberg told reporters in the 2001 mayoral race that he’d smoked pot and enjoyed it. But marijuana arrests have skyrocketed on his watch. More people have been arrested for marijuana possession under his terms than under the Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani administrations combined, the protesters claimed.
“My problem is that every policy that we always address for some reason affects communities that look like mine more than anybody else,” said City Councilman Jumaane Williams. “This is another case of it, and it’s just sickening.”
Denying any wrongdoing, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said officers are merely enforcing the law, and if opponents want to change the law they need to change the law.
“Officers encounter those situations on the street, they take action,” he continued. “If anyone thinks that’s inappropriate, they should petition the state legislature to change the law.”