Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jun 2010
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2010 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs
Cited: California NAACP
Cited: Proposition 19
Referenced: Targeting Blacks for Marijuana


The NAACP's endorsement Monday of the tax and regulate cannabis
initiative in California, now known as Prop. 19, stems from a
bombshell of a report that details a statewide pattern of systematic
"racism without racists" that targets black people for marijuana
arrest. Heavily policing the 'hood puts black youths in cops'
crosshairs, where a simple possession charge and $100 ticket starts a
rap sheet that leads directly to increased arrest and loss of job
opportunities and college financial aid, even though blacks use less
marijuana than whites.

"Targeting Blacks for Marijuana" is in many ways the same old story
told anew. The study by Queens College sociologist Dr. Harry G. Levine
and two peers builds upon the same type of FBI crime statistics
analysis he did in New York. This time, he looked at four years worth
of arrests in California from 2004 to 2008, some 60,000 marijuana
arrests, where he found that:

In every one of the 25 largest counties in California, blacks are
arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites,
typically at double, triple, or even quadruple the rate of whites.

The rate is triple in LA. San Diego and Orange County also heavily
target blacks.

The report also finds: "The substantial disparities in marijuana
possession arrest rates between whites and blacks cannot be explained
by their patterns of marijuana use. U.S. government studies
consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than
young whites."

Dope turns out to be stuff white people like, but they do it behind
closed doors in the 'burbs, where it goes unnoticed. Levine states
that patrolling hot spots typically filled with poor and minorities
leads to more opportunistic arrests.

"The item that young people in any neighborhood are most likely to
possess, which can get them arrested, is a small amount of marijuana.
In short, the arrests are racially-biased mainly because the police
are systematically 'fishing' for arrests in only some neighborhoods,
and methodically searching only some 'fish.' This produces what has
been termed 'racism without racists.'

Cops aren't going after dealers and kingpins either, the report

"Daniel Macallair and Mike Males documented this unprecedented shift
by California law enforcement since 1990 -- from targeting marijuana
manufacturing and sales offenses to targeting low-level marijuana
possession offenses. Since 1990, arrests for nearly every serious
crime have declined in California. Yet arrests for possession of
marijuana, usually for very small amounts, have tripled."

NAACP president Alice Huffman recognized the war on pot -- which has
cost $1 trillion and failed, according to an Associated Press study --
now as a civil rights issue.

"Under the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' It is our mission to
eradicate injustice and continue the fights for civil rights and
social justice wherever and whenever we can." 
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