'My Baby was Taken Away Because of an Illegal Pot Arrest': Video Series Kicks-Off to Support New Law to End NYC's Bogus Pot Arrests
Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his support for legislation that would decriminalize marijuana in public view, closing a loophole that has led to tens of thousands of illegal pot arrests in New York City. Today, a group of activists including Color of Change and the Drug Policy Alliance kicked off a video project featuring testimony from New Yorkers who were illegally stopped, frisked, and charged with pot. Today's voices include a mother seeking to reunite with her baby, who was taken after she was arrested for marijuana despite the fact that police did not see her smoking it or find it on her.
While possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized more than thirty years ago, 50,000 New Yorkers -- almost 90% of them Black or Latino --- are arrested annually for the more serious crime of weed 'in public view.' Even Commissioner Ray Kelly has acknowledged that police are making false arrests. In September, he sent an internal memo to officers ordering them to follow the law, and not to remove marijuana from someone's pockets during a stop-and-frisk, and then charge them with pot in public. The illegal stops and arrests continued nonetheless.
Colyssa Stapleton'e story:
Few people understand that a marijuana arrest is enough for police to remove your children from custody, among other harsh penalties, like loss of access to federal loans and housing. These consequences, alongside the difficulty of finding a job with a drug charge, make passing this bill so crucial. Sign the Color of Change petition to support bi-partisan legislation, S.5187 (Grisanti) / A.7620 (Jeffries), to standardize marijuana penalties and spare tens of thousands young New Yorkers of color from false arrest and lost opportunity.
See two more videos released today, including one by the bill's co-sponsor Hakeem Jeffries, below: