Records show New York City police arrested nearly 50,700 on low-level pot charges last year—despite a drop after officers were instructed not to use tactics that rights groups decried as trickery. State Division of Criminal Justice figures show arrests for the lowest marijuana misdemeanor actually rose slightly in 2011. The Drug Policy Alliance obtained the statistics and provided them to the Associated Press.
In New York, small amounts of cannabis must be openly visible to warrant arrest. Critics say police arrest people after finding the weed in pockets or bags after "requesting" a search. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly reminded officers of the law in September, supposedly putting an end to the practice. Kelly said most of those arrested had displayed the weed in public. (AP, Feb. 1)
Low-level marijuana arrests in New York City rose for the seventh straight year in 2011, reaching 50,680. The arrest total is the highest on record since former pot-smoker Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, and its the second highest total ever recorded in the history of the city—just 587 arrests behind the record-holding year 2000, when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani oversaw some 51,267 people arrested for marijuana violations. (NORML, Feb. 2)
The Occupy Wall Street movement helped bring pressure on Kelly to announce the policy change, with some 100 protesters marching on Harlem's 28th precinct police station from the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on Oct. 21. Some 30 were arrested for blocking the entrance to the station house. Demonstrators held signs that read "NYPD Protects and Serves the Rich" and "Cease, Desist: Stop and Frisk." (CBS New York, NBC New York, Oct. 21)