Philly decriminalized cannabis in 2014, but the information indicates that law enforcement is nonetheless engaging in unchecked and racially-biased pot policing.
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When the city of Philadelphia decriminalized cannabis in 2014, it did so in aspect mainly because of a massive racial disparity in how marijuana crimes have been enforced. And in the 5 years because switching from handcuffs to civil tickets for offenses like smoking in public and minor possession, Philly PD has handed out some 12,000 tickets. But did decriminalization disrupt the city’s racist policing tendencies?
According to a new deep dive from Billy Penn, 1 in 4 marijuana citations handed out in the previous 4 years have been confined to 1 predominantly black neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Yet another quarter of tickets have been distributed in Philly’s bustling Center City district, exactly where nearby residents say that people today are colour are targeted for ticketing although white smokers are ignored.
“A group of white children sitting in the park really smoking, they ride proper by them,” mentioned Kevin Stevenson, a 34-year-old artist who told Billy Penn he has received 5 public possession and consumption tickets because 2014. “They come more than right here as an alternative. They target the people today who appear like me — dreads, African American, young.”
To make matters worse, mainly because civil infractions are not tracked in the similar manner as conventional arrests, Philly PD have stopped collecting demographic information of their cannabis policing because decriminalization. In turn, nearby activists do not have the statistics to ascertain the extent of any racial disparity in pot citations.
“Time and once more, it is been shown that officers in the Philadelphia Police Division have a racial bias dilemma,” Andy Hoover, a spokesperson for the ACLU of PA, told Billy Penn. “So information collection on police behavior is essential for advertising transparency and accountability.”
Gallery — Images of Cops Smoking Weed:
A couple of miles north in New York City, racially-biased policing has continued, as nicely, in spite of the Empire State also decriminalizing. Final year, information indicated that 90% of cannabis arrests targeted New Yorkers of colour. This year, nevertheless, lawmakers have taken actions to expunge minor cannabis convictions in an try to undo some harm from the War on Drugs.
In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are also operating their way via healthcare marijuana expansion and adult-use cannabis legislation. But with no recreational bill at present on the table, it may possibly take a couple of years ahead of complete-scale legalization comes to address the prohibition issues in Philly. In the meantime, advocates like Hoover have named for a sweeping modify to the PPD information collection program in order to add oversight to the department’s civil policing.
“It would be a beneficial service to the neighborhood, to show irrespective of whether or not officers are enforcing the ordinance in a fair way,” Hoover mentioned.
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