Friday: Community Groups, Elected Officials to Gather in Support of Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s Plans to Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Marijuana Possession Cases

Press Release April 23, 2014
Media Contact

<p>Contact: gabriel sayegh (646) 335-2264 or Tony Newman (646) 335-5384</p>

NEW YORK: On Friday, April 25th at 11am, elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to applaud DA Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. DA Thompson’s office hopes that “individuals, and especially young people of color, do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized by involvement in the criminal justice system for engaging in nonviolent conduct that poses no threat of harm to persons or property,” according to The New York Times. The Times obtained a confidential policy memo that was sent by the district attorney to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

What: Press Conference about Marijuana Arrests in Brooklyn

When: Friday, April 25th 11am

Location: Steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall – 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Who: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (invited), Public Advocate Letitia James (invited), Assembly member Karim Camara, Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly member Walter Mosley, NYC Council Members, community members who have been arrested for marijuana possession, and advocates from community health and safety organizations, VOCAL-NY, Drug Policy Alliance, the Center for NuLeadership, NYCLU and more

Advocates applaud Thompson’s efforts to address a broken law that has led to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers being arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Over the last fifteen years, over 600,000 people have been arrested for marijuana possession in New York City – the majority of whom are young men of color, even though young white men use marijuana at higher rates.

Last year, there were nearly 30,000 such arrests in New York City alone. Based on first-quarter data obtained from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, NYPD is now on track to make nearly as many marijuana possession arrests in 2014 as it did in 2013, with similarly shocking racial disparities.

Proposals to fix New York’s marijuana possession law have stalled in Albany, leaving local jurisdictions to address the matter. In taking action with this bold and smart proposal, DA Thompson is using his discretionary authority as the top law enforcement officer in Brooklyn to create more equitable outcomes, focus law enforcement resources on real public safety issues, and end an egregious, ineffective, wasteful criminal justice practice. The District Attorney’s program does not limit police officers from issuing a summons or even making an arrest.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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