LA Is Only Half as Racist as NYC

By David Jenison

LA Is Only Half as Racist as NYC

Most educated folks know that minorities are arrested at much higher rates for cannabis possession than whites are despite similar usage rates. Well, new studies released this week showed that Los Angeles law enforcement, while racist, is at least less racist than NYC when it comes to cannabis arrests.

The Drug Policy Alliance recently analyzed cannabis citation data from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and findings showed that the LAPD is four times more likely to arrest African-Americans and nearly three times more likely to arrest Latinos.

So, how does LA’s racism compare to New York City? You don’t want to know.

NYC, which became the “marijuana arrest capital of the world” under Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani, was supposed to get better about cannabis prohibition under de Blasio. The New York Police Department (NYPD) had other plans. The Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) secured statistics from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and during the first quarter of 2016, people of color made up more than 90 percent of arrests involving the suspicion of cannabis possession and sale.  

Compared to 2015, arrests for “small amounts” were up 34 percent, while misdemeanor arrests involving people of color were up two percent… to 87 percent!

"While Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bratton, and other city officials have made widely publicized pronouncements about reducing punitive sanctions for marijuana infractions, the data presents a different story," said PROP director Robert Gangi in a press release. "Arrests for these activities are actually on the rise."

On a national level, a 2013 report by the ACLU found that African-Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than whites. Since 2001, this disparity increased significantly as the arrest-rate for African-Americans jumped about 33 percent through 2010 while the white rate remained steady.


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