D.C. Cops Slammed for Racial Difference in Minor Drug Arrest Rates

Credit: ACLUCredit: ACLUIn a report to be released on Friday the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs concludes that African Americans are disproportionately arrested for minor drug offences.

The Washington Post :

Authors of the report found that eight of 10 adults arrested in the District are black, disproportionate to the racial breakdown of residents — roughly 47 percent black and 43 percent white. Nine of 10 people arrested on the charge of simple drug possession are black, the study found. And eight of 10 charged with disorderly conduct are black.Said Roderic V.O. Boggs, executive director of the lawyers’ committee: “Police are spending an enormous amount of time resolving behavior that is not life-threatening.”He called the disparities jarring. In 2010, the equivalent of 30 percent of the District’s adult male population were arrested, compared with 2 percent of the white residents.

The most recent report is in line with other studies conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, confirming the disproportionate arrest rates for African Americans. The damning reports have been met with squeals of innocence by D.C. law enforcement. Police Chief Cathy Lanier wrote of the ACLU report, to the tune of the world’s smallest violin, “in framing the discussion as police inflicting a war on drugs on the community, the organization missed an opportunity to have a valuable dialogue.”

The rise of arrests for drug possession, 60% increase from 2001 to 2010, has been a major factor in the recent D.C. Council vote to decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
The study has been criticized due to the fact that crime rates were highest in black areas of D.C. However Roderic V.O. Boggs executive director of the lawyer’s committee, points to the disparities in arrest rates even in predominantly white areas.

The Washington Post :

The report singles out Ward 3 in Northwest, some of the District’s richest real estate with Chevy Chase and Woodley Park. It had the city’s fewest drug arrests in 2011 — 27 — although it is home to nearly 13 percent of the city’s population. Nearly 80 percent of its residents are white.In Ward 1, which includes part of historically black Shaw but also Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, 81 percent of the more than 1,200 drug arrests in 2011 were of blacks, who make up about one-third of the population.

Considering there is no significant difference in marijuana use between black and white Americans, and for the 18-25 demographic  white use is higher, D.C. law enforcement have a lot of explaining to do.

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  • Enough About Palin||

    This is really getting old.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "he report singles out Ward 3 in Northwest, some of the District’s richest real estate with Chevy Chase and Woodley Park. It had the city’s fewest drug arrests in 2011 — 27 — although it is home to nearly 13 percent of the city’s population. Nearly 80 percent of its residents are white.In Ward 1, which includes part of historically black Shaw but also Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, 81 percent of the more than 1,200 drug arrests in 2011 were of blacks, who make up about one-third of the population."

    Seriousely. This has been discussed here many times. The folks in Chevy Chase and Woodley Park sll drugs like they're Amway salespeople; the go to someone's house, visit a bit, do a little business and then part ways. In Shaw, Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan it's a street market.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Exactly so. I do not want to speculate whether it is a cultural difference or if black folks sell drugs on the street because they have nowhere else to go or if it's because wealthier people have better connections or what, but the reality is that white people tend to do their drug business behind closed doors.

  • Calidissident||

    We're talking about simple possession, not selling. Not to mention that this disparity doesn't just exist in places with urban ghettos like DC. And has the number of black people (or just people in general) buying/possessing weed in public really increased 60% in the last 10 years?

  • John||

    But how many of those possession charges were tacked on after someone was being investigated for or arrested for something else? If I get pulled over on an outstanding warrant for not paying a traffic ticket and they find drugs on me, that is a possession charge too. But it is not like it happened because the police were picking on me.

  • Calidissident||

    "But how many of those possession charges were tacked on after someone was being investigated for or arrested for something else?"

    I don't know, are there stats for that anywhere. And race aside, it would be odd that there would be a 60% increase in marijuana possession arrests, given the fact that crime isn't higher than it was then, and I don't think marijuana use has increased drastically since then.

    "If I get pulled over on an outstanding warrant for not paying a traffic ticket and they find drugs on me, that is a possession charge too."

    Of course no black person ever gets pulled over or stopped for no good reason (not that it never happens to white people either)

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    We're talking about simple possession, not selling.

    That's rather irrelevant.

    And has the number of black people (or just people in general) buying/possessing weed in public really increased 60% in the last 10 years?

    Not all of that 60% is black.

  • Calidissident||

    "That's rather irrelevant."

    No it isn't.

    "Not all of that 60% is black."

    I never said it was. In fact, if all of the 60% increase in the general population was from black people, the percentage increase of blacks arrested would be much higher than 60%

  • Enough About Palin||

    White people tend not to carry their shit with them when they go out of their homes.

  • Calidissident||

    I can't speak for D.C., but growing up in a mostly-white town where most kids smoked at least occassionally, and a good percentage were regular users, I can say that definitely wasn't true for people who regularly smoked (as opposed to the people who lit up once in a while at a friends house or at a party), and very few ever got arrested.

  • John||

    The other thing is that black people in DC are poorer than white people in DC. Poor people have more run ins with the cops. And I don't mean just cops picking on them.

    If you are some K street lawyer in Chevy Chase looking for your coke fix, you go to your connections house, you buy it and go home. You are unlikely to have any interactions with the cops. In contrast, if you are living down in SE, and your tag on your car is expired, and you buy the drugs in the middle of the street, and two are three times a month you get into with your girlfriend and she calls the cops on you or you her, you are going to have a lot of interaction with the cops. And chances are they are going to notice the drugs on you.

  • Invisible Finger||

    They sell on the street because of targeting and forfeiture.

    If they targeted whitey and came down on them with forfeiture, whitey would sell in the street, too. Or at least in a corner booth at Denny's.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I don't think this is primarily about race. It's primarily about poverty.

  • Paul.||

    Once again, we can get MSM to pay attention if we bring race into it.

    Whatever works, I guess.

  • Warrren||

    David Simon may be mostly a proggie but I agree with him that the drug war is intended as a war on blacks. Handouts on one side and jail on the other, it's a stunningly effective method to repress a population.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    oh Jesus. Don't assume malice when incompetence will suffice as an explanation.

    It's easier to pick on poor people. More black people are poor as a percentage of the population than white people. *shrug*

  • ||

    Right, but if the War on Drugs pumped the breaks a little and possession charges were simple misdemeanors and not invitations to 8 years in a federal-pound-me-in-the-ass prison, then it wouldn't result in a lifetime of unemployment and handouts that a criminal record results in.

    I will absolutely side with Warren and believe that the statists' perpetuate the WoD in malice.

  • Warrren||

    Also add in the regulations that make it harder to start or maintain businesses like running a cab or doing hairstyling or even just corn-rowing and you have a triple whammy.

    Add in "blight" remediation that eliminates lower-value properties and prices lower-income people out of neighborhoods you get a quad-whammy.

  • ||

    quad-whammy

    That's right, a swift punch to the upper leg

  • Warrren||

    It's near the balls...

  • Invisible Finger||

    Don't assume malice when incompetence will suffice as an explanation.

    Even when you're talking about a swath of the country that has a few centuries of history of racially-motivated malice? It can certainly be BOTH incompetence and malice.

  • Adam330||

    DC has a few centuries of history of racially motivated malice? This place has been run by black people since the 70s.

  • Invisible Finger||

    David Simon may be mostly a proggie but I agree with him that the drug war is intended as a war on blacks

    I will add that the WoD was certainly started as racial hatred, but it's taken on a life of its own at this point. Mostly just a jobs program. Poor, black.... either way it's the low-hanging fruit.

    But if we compared white trash to black trash, we'd still find the black trash getting arrested at a higher rate. Only thing is I'm not sure how much white trash is in DC, prolly have to go to MD for that.

  • Warrren||

    Yeah, my local McDonald's is usually full of white trash.

    Even when I'm the only one eating there.

  • AlmightyJB||

    There is more overall crime in poor neighbirhoods. Hence a highed police presence hence more arrest of poor people for minor crimes. I have no love for cops nor would I say there aren't a lot of racist in that occupation. That being said if yoh don't think cops should be arresting people for something than make it legal. The bulk of this criticism should be aimed at lawmakers not law enforcers.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I think it's well established that the explanation is FYTW.

  • Adam330||

    This is interesting, but I can think of lots of reasons other than racism.

    And racism doesn't seem all that likely since DC is essentially run by black people. The mayor is black, 6 of the 13 councilmembers are black (more before three of them recently got sent to jail), and the US Attorney (effective the DA) is black. Nearly 70% of the metro PD is black. Do all these people hate blacks?

  • Calidissident||

    I think people (not just blacks) are definitely capable of discriminating against their own race. George Soros is Jewish (at least ethnically), that doesn't mean what he did during the Holocaust wasn't anti-Semitic.

    More to the point, a system can be racist, or at least have racist elements, that aren't due to explicitly racist people simply acting out of their biases out of malice.

    To give an example that's not directly related to this article, the crack-powder cocaine disparity definitely had a racist impact, even though many black leaders initially supported the law.

  • Adam330||

    Certainly a black person could be racist against blacks. But is it really plausible that this many of them are? And ones who have to stand for election in a majority black electorate?

    I guess a system could be racist too, but I see no reason to think it is here. The disparate arrest rates could well have to do with different patterns in where drugs are used/carried, incidence of other crime (i.e. blacks live in high crime neighborhoods with more police and/or the arrestees are also being arrested for some other crime and when searched drugs are found), etc.

  • Calidissident||

    "Certainly a black person could be racist against blacks. But is it really plausible that this many of them are? And ones who have to stand for election in a majority black electorate?"

    Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of upper-class black politicians looked down on lower-class blacks. So perhaps more "classist" than "racist" per se, but the effect is the same. Plus, in this case, it's not needed for politicians to give direct orders to cops to be racist assholes, just not care enough to stop it (and to be clear, I don't think it's just about cops being racist assholes. As I said, there's more to racism than just individuals who openly hate people of a different race acting on those biases)

    I guess a system could be racist too, but I see no reason to think it is here. The disparate arrest rates could well have to do with different patterns in where drugs are used/carried, incidence of other crime (i.e. blacks live in high crime neighborhoods with more police ..."

    If that's the case, why have possession arrests increased 60% during a time when crime has not significantly increased (and perhaps fallen - I'd have to check the numbers)? Also, the points about high crime neighborhoods serves my argument. If cops are in an area more, it stands to reason that cops are going to fuck with people in those areas more. And if you're one of the people in those neighborhoods that isn't a criminal (or is committing a victimless crime like smoking weed), that sucks for you.

  • Seamus||

    Considering there is no significant difference in marijuana use between black and white Americans, and for the 18-25 demographic white use is higher, D.C. law enforcement have a lot of explaining to do.

    It's pretty obvious, isn't it? The D.C. government is racist.

  • lap83||

    Reason seems to like equating differences in outcomes with differences in treatment when it suits pet causes, like drugs. It's times like that when the "Reason" name rings kind of hollow.

  • Gus||

    DRINK!!!!

  • Flemur||

    Considering there is no significant difference in marijuana use between black and white Americans,

    "According to the medical journal Addictive Behaviors, “underreporting of cocaine was documented with urine testing validation as well where African Americans in comparison to Caucasians who were urine positive were about 6 times less likely to report cocaine use when other factors are controlled for.”
    Down at Johns Hopkins, they tested self-reporting of marijuana use among African Americans: “A study of 290 African American men in Baltimore, Maryland undergoing treatment for hypertension showed that self-reporting of illicit drug use is unreliable. Only 48 of the participants reported drug use but urine drug tests revealed that 131 had used drugs.“
    http://frontpagemag.com/2013/c.....g-arrests/

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