Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2008
Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Copyright: 2008 HuffingtonPost com, Inc.
Author: Anthony Papa
Cited: William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice
Cited: New York Mothers of the Disappeared
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)


Last night, political comedian and long-time activist, Randy Credico
was enjoying a cool summer evening with his friends barbecuing in the
backyard of his Gay Street home in New York City's West Village. After
hearing a loud commotion in the street, Credico stepped out of his
front door and witnessed New York City police officers arresting a
couple of young adults for allegedly smoking marijuana. Credico got
into a shouting match with the cops. One of the officers turned out to
have a history with Credico and was involved in a similar incident
some months back when Credico documented the arrest of some other
young adults accused of simple marijuana possession. Following the
verbal altercation with officers, Credico was arrested and charged
with resisting arrest and making obscene gestures.

Credico is the director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial
Justice . The organization has an ongoing project that involves
reporting on and taking photos of undercover detectives who use
excessive force in arresting people for simple violations of marijuana
laws. Credico is a veteran activist against the drug war and its
harmful consequences on society.

He appears in two films about the war on drugs. "60 Spins Around the
Sun" chronicles Credico's crusade fighting the New York's draconian
Rockefeller Drug Laws. Credico is also featured in "Lockdown USA," a
documentary about the 2004 reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws
featuring hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Credico is the co-founder of
the New York Mothers of the Disappeared, a leading activist
organization that fought to change New York's harsh and racially
discriminatory drug laws.

Across the street from his West Village brownstone is a quiet row of
houses that has become a hotspot for marijuana arrests. "People get
arrested there all the time," Credico said to me. "I think they should
stop these meaningless arrests and use their time and resources to
find better ways of going after real criminals."

New York City is the capital of marijuana arrests. The NYPD arrested
and jailed nearly 400,000 people for possessing small amounts of
marijuana between 1997 and 2007, a tenfold increase in marijuana
arrests over the previous decade is a figure marked by startling
racial and gender disparities, according to a recent report released
by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The report, The Marijuana Arrest Crusade in New York City: Racial
Bias in Police Policy 1997-2007 is the first-ever in-depth study of
misdemeanor marijuana arrests in New York City during the Giuliani
and Bloomberg administrations. Researched and written by Harry G.
Levine, a sociologist at Queens College, and Deborah Peterson Small,
an attorney and advocate for drug policy reform, the report is based
on two years of observations in criminal courts as well as extensive
interviews with public defenders, Legal Aid and private attorneys,
veteran police officers, current and former prosecutors and judges,
and those arrested for possessing marijuana.

Credico called me at 5:00 a.m. from his cell in New York City's
notorious "Tombs" to notify me of his arrest. "It's horrible here" he
said. "All I did was to try and save a couple of kids from being
arrested for smoking pot." 
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