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NYPD Marijuana Crusade Led To Senseless Death Of Bronx Teenager


no badcopsBy Tony Newman

An 18-year-old teenager, Ramarley Graham, was killed in his home in the Bronx last week by plainclothes cops. A member of the narcotics unit shot the unarmed teenager in his bathroom.

While details of the tragedy are still unfolding, it appears that the teen had a small amount of marijuana on him, so walked home to get away from the cops because he didn’t want to be arrested. The cops followed him, broke into his home and killed him in his bathroom while he was trying to flush a small amount of marijuana down the toilet. The police officer who shot Graham said he believed the young man had a gun. He did not — no weapons were found.

The bottom line is that an 18-year-old is dead because of the insane marijuana arrest crusade by the NYPD.

Graham’s family and the community are righteously demanding justice. There was a passionate protest of hundreds of people outside the 47th Precinct station in the Bronx Monday night, where they condemned police violence and the almost-routine killings of unarmed men like Mr. Graham. Graham’s sister is quoted in yesterday’s New York Times, saying “This is not just about Ramarley. This is about all young black men.”

evil copIncidentally, just the day before the tragic killing, the New York City media was buzzing about the 2011 marijuana arrest numbers. There were more than 50,000 marijuana arrests in 2011, the second-most in NYC history and the most in more than a decade. The NYPD bust more people for small amounts of marijuana than any other crime in the city. And these 50,000 arrests are overwhelmingly young black and Latino men — even though, according to the government’s own data, they are no more likely to use or sell marijuana than young whites.

The amazing thing is that 7/8 of an ounce of marijuana is decriminalized — if police find marijuana in your belongings, they’re supposed to just give you a ticket, instead of arresting you, unless the marijuana is being smoked or in “public view.” So if under an ounce is supposed to not lead to arrest, why are 50,000 arrests happening a year? Because the NYPD stops and frisks more than 600,000 people — mostly young black and brown men — and then tricks them into emptying their pockets. And when marijuana is then pulled out, the police arrest them for marijuana in “public view.”

There has been a big campaign by the Drug Policy Alliance, Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives (IJJRA), and VOCAL-NY slamming the NYPD for these illegal arrests. In September it seemed like the campaign had reached a breakthrough when Police Commissioner Kelly ordered his police to stop making improper marijuana arrests. Last week’s news about the 2011 statistics, however, shows that the Commissioner’s order has not stopped these arrests — and New York City remains the marijuana arrest capital of the world.

Getting arrested for marijuana is no small matter — not least because it creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found on the Internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards and banks.

And if these 50,000 arrests a year are not destructive enough, we have an 18-year-old teenager who is dead, killed by the NYPD looking to make another small bust for marijuana. No one has ever died from smoking marijuana. But the war on marijuana has taken way too many lives.

Article From Alternet and republished with special permission



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  1. Yes it COULD happen to ANYONE! NYPD has performed these ILLEGAL searches for DECADES! It’s about time that we put a STOP to this FAILED WAR ON DRUGS! Innocent people are now starting to lose their lives at the hands of an over reaching Government. No one should EVER die in this! Me smoking a doobie, does NOT warrant 30 undercover cops breaking down my door in the middle of the night. The guy was growing these plants for his OWN PERSONAL USE! What is wrong with us people? We’re CREATING criminals where none NEED or DESERVE to be made. Let a patient and their Doctor make the decision if marijuana is right for them. Not some Washington politician who’s bought and paid for by BIG PHARMA as well as BIG LIQUOR?

  2. I’m 20 years old and both the main article and the comment above mine scare the shit out of me. Either incident could happen to any toker throughout their lives

  3. In my home town of Ogden Utah, the case of Matthew Stewart (case #121900081) creeps along, with obvious corruption, and reefer madness. The defense attorney has twice officially filed for discovery evidence, and motions to halt all destruction of evidence, including helmet cam footage. Official responses basically say they have the right to deny these requests. Evidence is officially being destroyed and discovery is being illegally denied.
    It’s a blatant railroad job.

    Mr Stewart had a medical marijuana grow for personal use. He awoke to what he thought was a home invasion, killing one of them and wounding 5. Turns out they were cops. While trying to give up, the cops shot him twice. The government is seeking the death penalty.

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