New York Times: Blacks are arrested 15 times the rate of whites in Manhattan

Around 86 percent of the 17,500 arrests last year over marijuana possession were blacks and Latinos in New York. (File photo via Reuters)
Around 86 percent of the 17,500 arrests last year over marijuana possession were blacks and Latinos in New York. (File photo via Reuters)

The New York Times on Sunday published a report showing the glaring disparity between blacks and whites in terms of incarceration rates over low-level marijuana charges in the Big Apple. 

New York City is one of the U.S. states where the gap is huge between blacks and whites despite the uniform use of marijuana.

Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years,” The New York Times found. “Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people.”

In Manhattan, the gap is the worst.

Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.”

In February, the New York Police Department (NYPD) had already admitted that there is a “troubling” racial gap in their system but defended their enforcement efforts.

In their defense, NYPD said cops make arrests in areas where they’re getting a lot of 911 and 311 calls about public pot smoking.

But the newspaper’s analysis shows that at least some quality-of-life arrests have more to do with the Police Department’s strategies than with residents who call for help.

The newspaper compared areas where it had either white or black majority and how the police reacted over small-cannabis possession.

It is not about the calls

Citing police data, officers in the precinct covering the working-class Canarsie area arrested people on marijuana possession charges at a rate more than four times as high as in the precinct that includes Greenpoint, despite residents calling 311, the city’s helpline, and 911 to complain about marijuana at the same rate.

The Canarsie precinct is about 85 percent black while the Greenpoint precinct is 4 percent black.

In an interview with the newspaper, a 27-year-old New Yorker Rashawn Nicol said officers found his female friend holding a joint on a third-floor stairwell landing in a Brooklyn housing project.

After she started crying, they backed off her arrest. But said they needed to bring their supervisor an arrest because he had radioed over a noise complaint. “Somebody’s got to go down for this,” Nicol said an officer told him. So they let her go but arrested him.

Like others, Nicol criticized the police for being slow to follow up on serious crimes but are strict on marijuana.

“The resources they waste for this are ridiculous,” he added.

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