Federal Suit Claims Police Distort MJ Searches
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Federal Suit Claims Police Distort MJ Searches
Posted by CN Staff on May 02, 2013 at 04:28:57 PT
By Ray Rivera
Source: New York Times
New York -- One man was walking home with groceries. Another was on a break from his job at a meat market. A third was walking down the street listening to headphones. That is when the men say police officers confronted them, sometimes violently, searched their clothing and discovered small amounts of marijuana, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit that is expected to be filed on Thursday in United States District Court for the Southern District, in Manhattan. 
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five Bronx men, contends that New York City police officers routinely stop black and Latino men without cause and then charge them with low-level misdemeanors when their pockets are emptied and small amounts of marijuana are found. In each of the cases, the amount of marijuana found on the men would have amounted to little more than noncriminal violations punishable by a fine of up to $100 for first-time offenders. But the lawsuit contends that the charging officers falsely claimed the marijuana was in public view, making it a low-level misdemeanor under Section 221.10 of the New York Penal Code, which allows for sentences of up to three months in jail. Critics of the Police Department say the practice, which they call manufactured misdemeanors, is widespread. The arrests are often the outgrowth of the departmentís stop-and-frisk program, which is being challenged in federal court for, among other things, disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic men. The lawsuit names the city, the department and several officers and supervisors as defendants. It was filed by the Bronx Defenders, which represents low-income defendants, and the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady L.L.P. A similar lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society is pending in state court in Manhattan. A spokeswoman for the cityís Law Department declined to comment on Wednesday, saying the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit. The Police Department charged more than 50,000 people with marijuana misdemeanors in 2011. More than 84 percent were black or Hispanic, a disparity that is even more pronounced in the Bronx. In an effort to limit these arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has made decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in open view one of his top goals this legislative session. The Legislature failed to act on a similar measure last year, despite support from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. Though state law calls for misdemeanor cases to be tried within 60 days, the time limits are seldom met, the lawsuit contends. People arrested in the Bronx have it even worse; a recent series of articles in The New York Times revealed a dysfunctional justice system plagued by long delays that often make it all but impossible for people charged with misdemeanors to ever reach trial. Two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Francisco Zapata and Danilo Melendez, were featured in one of the articles. They endured long delays and made frequent court appearances waiting for trial before the charges against them were finally dropped. A version of this article appeared in print on May 2, 2013, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Federal Suit Claims Police Distorted Marijuana Searches to Create Misdemeanors.Source: New York Times (NY)Author:  Ray RiveraPublished: May 2, 2013Copyright: 2013 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by Canis420 on May 03, 2013 at 23:48:38 PT:
True that!
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Comment #7 posted by museman on May 03, 2013 at 11:07:19 PT
I understand your sentiment. But to be honest, I joined the military with the prime intention to avoid VietNam. I was easily persuaded by basic training and my childhood romantic beliefs in america to take on (and it was 100% while it lasted) a bit of patriotism.I don't know where you are from, but if you actually had a discernible number of friends who went in to the military with the idea of serving humanity, they had to be young. And youth has many stars in their eyes that start to grow dim as soon as reality sets in. Not to disparage good intentions, I honor them, as you, even if they were misplaced. But I don't continue to pretend honor where there is none.In the old world, the past age, there was much honor in war. In fact most men considered it one of the most honorable things one could do.Fortunately the truth about all that, and what the wars have always been about has come to light in the past few decades. I realize that there are many comfort zones that prevent growth of spirit and understanding in most people, owing to social programming and such. War,the military, the police, the 'law' and the government are all part of that programming/propaganda, and when you give your time, life and energy to a bunch of liars, thieves, and demons, it is hard to admit, but its harder in the long run if one doesn't. If I had been the only one to recognize the "exploitation of a rotten system" I might have been persuaded that it was all in my head; I wasn't used as a guinea pig for pharma and their contracts with the DOD to create a new vaccine for meningitis in any honorable way, shape, or form. I wasn't set up for a fall by the Polaris Missile Program because I wasn't intelligent enough, but because I asked questions they could not answer and it undermined their hold on the mindlessness they were propagating in that program.I wasn't given a set of 'spin numbers' telling any potential employer that I was an 'undesirable' because I did anything dishonorable, unethical, or unlawful, but only because I had Spirit. -and my discharge was honorable. I didn't land a decent job for years until I stopped showing them my dd214.One of the greatest compliments/feedback I have ever gotten from putting my music online, was from a woman who praised me because she could tell by my video playing music with my sons, that "they would never go to war' and she thanked me profusely. Why do you suppose that is?Because I taught my sons an alternative to war.The symbols of war, conquest, and dominion are everywhere. They had thousands of years to get embedded in everything. Our values are contaminated with the propaganda and moral judgments based on the perceived "honors" of warlike behavior. The behavior of our cops are all justified within those patterns and in fact their ranks are exclusively recruited from military. And there is little I can find at this point that represents 'honor' -except a twisted fraternal sense of it- within the ranks. That 'uniform' -to me- represents the true terrorists in my country. The "law" that they support is not one of the people, by the people, and for the people - and I am not a servant of it.Perhaps I was fortunate to have been raised primarily by my mother, as I never knew my father. And witnessing the many vicious cycles of father/son machismo, alpha-dog struggles and such -specially those fathers who attempted to instill military type disciplines into their sons, I feel blessed to have only experienced it briefly with a step father who was raised in the depression, and valued brute force over reason every single time. He based his judgments and 'honor' almost entirely on his military experience.I on the other hand have four sons, (and three daughters) all grown and in the middle of their own lives. I went through the same struggles with them that any father has with his sons. But I surrendered, eventually, when I realized that I loved them more than my need to 'set them straight.' We now have a very close relationship. We play music together when we can, and a couple of them are now on missions to spread consciousness across the planet. As are my daughters, who take shit from no one.If it were possible that such a symbol such as a uniform, or a badge of authority actually represented something worthy of the best intentions -not to despise those intentions- then the 'honor' of true selfless service might possibly be appropriately attached. However such symbols and actions in reality do not reflect that, and in fact never have. There is no glory in bloody destruction and death, whether one survives or not. There is no honor in war, and there are no heroes that participate in it. Only fools (IMO) believe that war and warlike behavior are anything but the bane of our existence. Like the WOD. Whose idea was it to call it a 'war?' And why did they think the people would accept it?There is only one Honor, and is the honor of being loved. There is only one glory, and that is the PRACTICE of love.Love is much harder than war. It is much more difficult to understand than a testosterone inflated brute beating his chest and roaring like and ape. Love is much more difficult to maintain than 'uniform behavior.' When your parameters are defined by a book, the comfort zones are easily embedded within those walls. And the 'book of war' is a philosophy that underlines all the corruption that everyone here claims to be against.I say throw the book out.But I promise I won't toss any undeserving people out with that old bathwater.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on May 02, 2013 at 19:25:34 PT
I would still be proud of being a serviceman if I was you. Being exploited by a rotten system doesn't change the nobility of your intentions - or anyone in the military for that matter.The vast majority of friends I've known that have gone into service wanted nothing more than to work hard for the public good, and they all worked pretty hard doing so.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on May 02, 2013 at 18:42:02 PT
Sadly, Mexweed,
It looks like you are right.
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Comment #4 posted by mexweed on May 02, 2013 at 17:24:50 PT:
Street Politics
Did you notice: (a) the voter base of the Republican Party is twenty percentage points more anti-cannabis than the Dems; (b) the Republican Party regularly gets twice as much Big 2WackGo campaign money (at least what we know of, there may be more hidden in the $igarets United PACks); (c) the ethnic groups targeted for cannabis arrests are those known to be likely to vote Democratic; find a gun or some other evidence and bingo! a non-Republican voter is removed from the rolls.
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Comment #3 posted by jetblackchemist on May 02, 2013 at 15:26:01 PT
Drug war: Old fashioned discrimination
Isn't it great when probable cause is the color of your skin? The war on drugs is not only unconstitutional it is a discriminatory practice using probable cause as a guise for unjust detainments searches and seizures.The drug war makes the streets unsafe by fueling underworld criminal enterprise and from police becoming common thugs when enforcing these unconstitutional and discriminatory laws.How in the world a society is supposed to grow and benefit from such maleficent public health and safety policy is beyond me. Declaring war on actually creates and fuels more problems than it could ever hope to "solve" by pushing unconstitutional morality laws in it's citizenry.Some people are not responsible and cannot moderate; those people need help with their underlying issues, that are causing them to self medicate with addictive drugs that lead to violent crime from addiction... alcohol abuse mirrors those types of drugs. We deem the regulation and use of alcohol a logical healthy and safe public policy and it is... why it cannot be the same for other substances makes little sense.Cannabis is another animal entirely and not even in the same class, it is not an addictive substance it has great medical and economic value, and there are only two types of crime related to it... One: It's status as a scheduled drug; that creates an assault on human rights by law enforcement and two: The criminal enterprises that use cannabis to help fuel their criminal enterprises.Alcohol is a public health and public safety risk, yet it's legal... because failed policy led to abusive policing and criminal enterprise. The only reason Cannabis is a public and health safety risk is because of lies and misinformation that put it as a schedule I drug to begin with. When in fact it's schedule I status causes unfathomably more public health and safety issues than it's legal status ever could.Wanna talk about real reefer madness? Well that's it. Wanna talk about a sane rational "fact" based public health and safety policy? Only in legalization is where we are going to find it. We have been living on nothing but outright lies on marijuana criminalizing it in the first place and been regulated with bad public health and safety policy on this issue for far too long.Hopefully, those with good intentions for society turn that energy onto the real enemies of society, and realize that marijuana never was or has been an enemy to society, but just a personal enemy to those profiting off it's schedule I status. 
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Comment #2 posted by museman on May 02, 2013 at 11:05:09 PT
Slowly, oh so slowly, we come to the meat of the matter. I mean the governor of new york is a quomo!Politicians are an elitist bunch of wanna be aristocrats. They want to be rulers; kings and lords. Even the few and far between 'representatives' who actually occasionally act on the behalf of their constituents, are so bound by the modus operandi of the corrupted government they are mere token voices echoing a public sentiment that the government as a whole turns deaf ears and blind eyes towards.Sometimes I even think they are just there to make people think we actually do have a representative government and distract us from the truth.But the final truth is, our government is not ours, it is totally owned, operated, and controlled by the uber wealthy, who have other older names and associations going back through recorded history. But they've always occupied the same status in what ever society they rear their ugly heads; the top of the pyramid of power.We had a revolution a few centuries ago that was supposed to remove them from power -at least in our neck of the woods- it didn't work. They had their throne in place before the last of the bodies cooled. While we were stealing the country form the natives, we had a 'wild west' liberty that many folks adapted as an american ethic. It wasn't real, and it didn't last.As soon as we had the Bill of Rights, the movement to keep the government away from and out of the hands of the people was underway. The Supreme Court was established -not to work out the kinks in the Constitution, but to ensure that the bottom line -the sanctity of the rulers- is maintained. Thus we have the "Rule of Law" that has been thrown at us by various politicians for the past few decades as some kind of 'moral imperative' that must be unleashed on the entire planet and enforced with an iron fist.Once I proudly wore the uniform of an American Serviceman. All the pride I once felt has turned to disgust. And even as I have continued to go through the motions of voting and paying my 'good citizen' fees, I finally realized it was all 100% a joke. A sick joke of Biblical proportions. And the only ones laughing are the perpetrators. Smoking cannabis, 'taking the law into my own hands' as they say, showed me the dynamics of the situation. Liberty is a birthright, but if you don't seize it, embrace it, act on it, and refuse to have it taken arbitrarily by some social aberrant who believes themselves as having power over over you, then I guess you need lawyers to suck off you while they pretend to do justice.If they really had that power, they wouldn't need to threaten me with their 'dogs with badges and guns' the truth of the matter would be enough.Death for instance, has power over me. It is an inevitability. Does the universe need the 'death police' to come around and make sure that I expire?The Creator of the Universe has authority - because (1. I recognize the nature and existence of a Creator. and (2. I willingly give that power and authority to my Creator.No one on this planet has that kind of authority, yet these people in 'high places' comport themselves as if they were the gods of olympus.They have been issued notice, but they are in denial. They think they will have dominion here for as long as they like, but their time is ticking away. Their opportunity to embrace the various realities that the rest of us are embracing in these days of wonder is dwindling faster than they realize.This I believe will be the ultimate justice. One morning they will wake up and everything they have will have been taken from them. They will piss and moan about how they 'didn't see it coming' and plead for a 'second chance.'Justice says they won't get it.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on May 02, 2013 at 09:29:13 PT
>>In an effort to limit these arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has made decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in open view one of his top goals this legislative session. The Legislature failed to act on a similar measure last year, despite support from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. Everyone supports it, but it just doesn't pass.We have two kinds of politicians. Ones that vow to continue the militarism, and ones that say they want to stop it. Both proceed to ramp up the warfare economy every year.What a joke. The various governors and legislators are merely a charade for the real power brokers in our society.Very similar to places like Iran, where they have a secular, elected government for show, while a handful of religious clerics actually run the country behind the scenes. Here it's more like a few economic oligarchs that are pulling the strings.The "Commander in Chief" can't even close a single prison (Gitmo) in 5 years. Right. They insult our intelligence with this contrived political bickering.Two facts from recent Bill Maher shows to consider: Since 1983, the USA has opened 44 Supermax prisons. Inmates are in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. To get one hour per day in the exercise yard, they have to submit to full cavity search.English police can't even carry guns. Number of bullets fired in Germany in one year by all police officers: 85, with 40 being warning shots.Consider the resources we spend harassing and jailing minorities while 22 veterans of the US armed forces commit suicide every day. That's where the crisis actually lies.
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