Democrats Responsible for Drug War on Black and Latino Men, Ruining Countless Lives
It’s a bit shocking to grasp the role that the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have played in undermining the lives of hundreds of thousands of young minority men. In a very hard-hitting op-ed on October 24th, “Smoke and Horrors” New York Times Saturday columnist Charles Blow, citing the work of City University Professor Harry Levine, makes four truly mind-jolting points:
1. There are massive racial disparities in pot arrests, even though whites smoke more pot.
2. Police departments’ training and overtime needs encourage using urban young people as arrest fodder.
3. NYC underhandedly manipulates kids to expose themselves to harsher penalties, which seems to be unconstitutional;
4. All of this is funded enthusiastically by Obama and Democrats to make them look strong on crime; meanwhile, arrest records make it almost impossible for young people to qualify for aid for higher education, helping relegate them to lives in the underclass.
How is it that the Democrats, who count on the votes of the minority community, are so collusive in undermining their own constituency? Here is Blow at his powerful, outraged best:
• The data: “In the last 20 years, California made 850,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and half-a-million arrests in the last 10 years. The people arrested were disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos, overwhelmingly young people, especially men.” For instance, …….. the City of Los Angeles “arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.” ……… One could justify this on some level if, in fact, young blacks and Hispanics were using marijuana more than young whites, but that isn’t the case. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, young white people consistently report higher marijuana use than blacks or Hispanics.
• The process: “How can such a grotesquely race-biased pattern of arrests exist? Professor Levine paints a sordid picture: young police officers are funneled into low-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods where they are encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk young men. And if you look for something, you’ll find it. So they find some of these young people with small amounts of drugs. Then these young people are arrested. The officers will get experience processing arrests and will likely get to file overtime, he says, and the police chiefs will get a measure of productivity from their officers. The young men who were arrested are simply pawns.”
• The New York City Treachery: Professor Levine has documented an even more devious practice in New York City, where possessing a small amount of marijuana is just a civil violation (so is a speeding ticket), but having it “open to public view” is a misdemeanor. According to a report he issued in September 2009: “Police typically discovered the marijuana by stopping and searching people, often by tricking and intimidating them into revealing it. When people then took out the marijuana and handed it over, they were arrested and charged with the crime of having marijuana ‘open to public view.’ ”
• The Democratic Collusion ” 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a provision that made people temporarily or permanently ineligible for federal financial aid depending on how many times they had been arrested and convicted of a drug offense. ……. the effect was real and devastating: the people most in need of financial aid were also being the most targeted for marijuana arrests and were therefore the most at risk of being frozen out of higher education. Remember that the next time someone starts spouting statistics comparing the number of black men in prison with the number in college.
“The 2009 stimulus package presented these Democrats with the opportunity, and they seized it. The legislation, designed by Democrats and signed by President Obama, included $2 billion for Byrne Grants to be awarded by the end of September 2010. ( go be used to fund police to rev up the war on drugs: eds.) That was nearly a 12-fold increase in financing….. Financing prevention is fine. Financing a race-based arrest epidemic is not.”
“Why would Democrats support a program that has such a deleterious effect on their most loyal constituencies? It is, in part, callous political calculus. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way for them to buy a tough-on-crime badge while simultaneously pleasing police unions. The fact that they are ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men and, by extension, the communities they belong to barely seems to register.”