MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Let's stop beating around the bush.
The ongoing and daily police sweeps arresting minorities for marijuana use, sales and distribution is institutional racism, pure and simple.
There are no daily suburban police massive arrests of suburban white youth for marijuana violations, are there? BuzzFlash at Truthout hasn't read about or heard of any.
But it's more than that. As BuzzFlash posted a couple weeks back, the ACLU issued a report that found,
Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report also found that marijuana possession arrests now make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with police making over 7 million marijuana possession arrests between 2001 and 2010. "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests" is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.
Of this racist use of drug arrests to incarcerate and subjugate black males in urban areas where there are few jobs beyond drugs – and where drugs are an opiate for lack of job opportunity – the only benefit to society is those who profit from or are employed by the prison-industrial complex.
If you think that BuzzFlash at Truthout is "radical" for making such an assertion, we are joined in our perspective by the New York Times (NYT). The NYT editorial board wrote on June 16:
Federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, now shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive that was previously known — and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression. [Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.]
The study, based on law enforcement data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most detailed of its kind so far. Marijuana arrests have risen sharply over the last two decades and now make up about half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the more than eight million marijuana arrests made between 2001 and 2010, nearly 90 percent were for possession. There were nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in 2010 — 300,000 more than for all violent crimes combined.
Nationally, African-Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites. The disparity is even more pronounced in some states, including Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, where African-Americans are about eight times as likely to be arrested. And in some counties around the country, blacks are 10, 15 or even 30 times as likely to be arrested.
In a widely ignored protest on June 17, black leaders gathered in DC to denounce the racially biased charade of the "war on drugs":
A group of social justice activists, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, rallied in Washington Monday to protest the Obama administration and its so-called "war on drugs," which they say has unfairly targeted black communities across the country.
The Institute of the Black World 21st Century's "Day of Direct Action" drew a crowd of more than 500 grassroots leaders and community advocates on the 42nd anniversary of the war on drugs, which they say has become a "pipeline" for mass incarceration in black communities….
"State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU and one of the primary authors of the study, in a release. "The aggressive policing of marijuana is time-consuming, costly, racially biased, and doesn't work."
A news release about the DC protest -- which targeted President Obama in terms of his administration's continued backing of the alleged "War on Drugs" -- stated how grievous an impact it has had on minorities:
Declaring the crises in distressed Black communities a "State of Emergency," Dr. Ron Daniels, President of IBW states: "there is a direct connection between the so called War on Drugs as a racially biased strategy and the devastation, death and destruction in America's 'dark ghettos.'
The recent ALCU Study of marijuana arrests clearly confirms what we have known for some time, 'the War on drugs is a war on us,' a war that has severely damaged Black communities across the country. We need President Obama to go beyond lecturing us about 'personal responsibility' and declare the State of Emergency in America's dark ghettos a moral and political crisis which requires immediate action!"
This egregious injustice has been a state of emergency for years and now is lamentably accepted as the social status quo.
How ironic, millions of black man incarcerated for an arbitrary crackdown on "illicit drugs" under the administration of America's first black president.
There's something utterly shameful about that.
(Photo: Neon Tommy)