Georgia Police decided to arrest 70 party attendees and charge them with possession. Some are still being held in jail. This was all over one ounce of weed.
Further proof that Georgia has unfair laws when it comes to marijuana. 70 arrests occurred in Cartersville this past New Year’s Eve. Georgia police responded to reports of shots fired at a subdivision. But initial investigation only revealed the appearance of a peaceful party, and an odor of marijuana.
Police then called in the county drug task force to assist in the investigation, and after a full search said they found two firearms at the scene. In addition, they found “several smoking devices” and “suspected cocaine.”
Officers also found less than an ounce of marijuana, reported the Cartersville Daily-Tribune. The overreaching officers decided to arrest everybody in the home for possession of marijuana less than an ounce in response.
“All the subjects at the residence were placed under arrest for the possession of the suspected marijuana which was within everyone’s reach or control,” said the Bartow Cartersville Drug Task Force in a news release.
The Arrest Process
According to police, everyone was arrested because the items were within everyone’s easy reach or control. The jail records reported that 63 people arrested were processed at Bartow County. By Monday night, all been charged with a single count of possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. The individuals arrested were predominantly black males ages 19 to 25. The Daily-Tribune said several of them were “prominent high school athletes.” Four men were also booked on suspicion of felonies not related to drug possession, reported BuzzFeed News.
Deja Heard, the woman whose 21st birthday was being celebrated at the party, told WSB-TV that “all of us are innocent — it’s just not right.”
Some of the arrested partygoers reported being mistreated by police, telling WSB that they were:
“tied up with zip ties.” and “threatened with tasers.” Several men said they’d been “locked in cages.”
The Georgia NAACP
NAACP said it was launching an investigation into the arrests. The organization has backed a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the arrested partygoers, described as the “Cartersville 70.”
“Some of these young people need money to make bail and all of them need assistance with their legal fees. A good majority of these individuals are college students and members of the U.S. military who were visiting home over the holiday break. Others were working citizens who lost their jobs the second they walked into work this morning,” the campaign page reads. “They need your help to bring justice and light to the unjust treatment these individuals experienced leading to and during their incarceration.”
In nearby Athens, Georgia, black individuals are 4.7 times more likely to be charged with a marijuana violation than white individuals. Nationwide, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related offense.
Georgia Police make a statement
On Tue., Jan 2, Cartersville police said in a statement that they would be reviewing a “long-standing” department policy to call the county drug task force during drug investigations.
“It has been a long-standing policy of the Cartersville Police Department that drug investigations routine patrol officers encounter are referred to the Bartow Cartersville Drug Task Force. This current policy is now under review for any further drug investigations,” police said.