The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jeremy Saunders 917-676-8041 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Kyung Ji Rhee 347-712-0259

A Tale of Two Cities: Numerous Elected Officials, Community Members March and Rally at 1 Police Plaza

Under Bloomberg, Close to 400,000 Mostly Young Black and Latinos Arrested on Low-Level Marijuana Charges, Despite Marijuana Being Decriminalized and Whites Using Marijuana at Higher Rate


Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly are writing a Tale of Two Cities. One New York City is for white people, where marijuana possession was decriminalized in 1977, people are seldom stopped and frisked, and mothers do not fear that their teenagers will be rounded up by the police. The other New York City is for people of color, where hundreds of thousands of people are stopped even though most were entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, tens of thousands are thousands are illegally searched, falsely charged, arrested and incarcerated for marijuana possession (even though it's not a crime in New York), and mothers are afraid that the police may unlawfully arrest their young people.

On Saturday, May 12th at noon, community members, elected officials, and New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety will march to 1 Police Plaza to demand equity and fairness in our city and an end to illegal, racially biased and costly marijuana arrests. In 2011, there were 50,684 marijuana possession arrests, the top arrest and second highest in New York City history, despite Police Commissioner Kelly's directive last year to end such arrests. Even though young whites use marijuana at higher rates, nearly 85 percent of the people arrested for marijuana possession are Black and Latino, and most are under 30 years old. These arrests cost taxpayers over $75 million a year, even while Bloomberg proposes cuts to public libraries, fire stations and after-school programs.

What: A Tale of Two Cities: March and Rally to End Illegal Arrests and Biased Police Practices

When: Saturday May 12th, 2012, AT NOON

Where: Foley Square between Lafayette St. and Center Street, Take the 4, 5 or 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge

Who: Scheduled to attend: State Senator Eric Adams; Assembly Members Hakeem Jeffries and Karim Camara; NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Oliver Koppell, Jumaane Williams, Letitia James, Ydanis Rodriguez, Annabel Palma, Brad Lander, Steven Levin; Rev. Dr. Divine Pryor of Greater Works Deliverance Church; Kevin Powell (Activist, Writer, and Weekly Blogger for The Guardian); Robin Steinberg, executive director, Bronx Defenders; and Sandy Bernabei, Anti-Racist Alliance

Endorsed by: Vocal-NY, Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, Drug Policy Alliance, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, Mothers Against Racist Policing, Bronx Defenders, BK Nation, LEAP, NAPW, Make the Road New York, Resistance in Brooklyn, (list in formation)


New York State decriminalized private possession of small amounts of marijuana in 1977, in order to preserve scarce police resources and prevent needless criminalization. But the NYPD has made marijuana possession arrests their number one priority. Research finds that most people arrested for marijuana possession did not have it in public view (a misdemeanor), but had a small amount in a pocket and were either tricked by the police to reveal it or were illegally searched. These individuals are then falsely charged for possessing marijuana in public view, and arrested. In the last five years under Bloomberg, the NYPD made more marijuana arrests than in the twenty-four years under Mayors Giuliani, Dinkins and Koch combined. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Albany to address the issue, along with a resolution in NY City Council.

Join New Yorkers to demand an end to the Tale of Two Cities - and call for fairness, equity, and justice!

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

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