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Minneapolis ends pot stitches criticized as targeting blacks

MINNEAPOLIS – The local Police Department said Thursday it will discontinue undercover sting targeting low-level marijuana sales in the wake of the activities that resulted in the disproportionate arrest of black people.

The police Medaria Arradondo announced that the new policy in the direction of the Mayor, Jacob Frey. The Star Tribune reported the change follows a report prepared by the Hennepin County public defender’s office said 46 of 47 people arrested in the sting operations of Jan. 24 on May 24 were black. In almost all cases relate to the sale of 1 to 2 grams of marijuana for $10 to $20, said the report, which was submitted to the court last week to challenge the arrests.

Arradondo, the city’s first black police chief, said at a press conference that the police are trying to reduce the centre of the crime.

“While the intention was good, it was an unintended consequence,” he said.

The chief said that the new policy applies to the entire city. The police will still have other marijuana related arrests so long as the drug remains illegal in the city.

Frey told Arradondo that he wanted an end to operations that are specifically aimed at selling marijuana.

“I strongly believe that marijuana should be the lowest level of enforcement priority and that it should be fully legalized at the state level,” the mayor said in a statement. “That support for full legalization, however, does not negate the need for our employees to make the necessary arrests to get weapons off our streets, and the sale of life-threatening narcotics, such as heroin.”

Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty said that she called Him last week to tell him about the racial differences in the number of arrests, and he promised the arrests would stop.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement that his office has already handled that one-quarter of the 47 cases, by an underestimation of the cost, sending the suspects to a diversion program or ask for a stay that would result in no sentences with the charges reduced to misdemeanors. He said that his office was in the process of dismissal against the other defendants.

The report, by Assistant Public defender Jess Braverman, said the arrests had “resulted in felony convictions for many black suspects who were targeted, and the devastating collateral consequences that go along with such a conviction: jail, jail and even deportation proceedings.”

New York City police department is also reviewing the marijuana arrest policy. To say that the government’s war on marijuana has hit minorities hard, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said last month that his office would stop prosecuting people for simple possession or public use of the drug as of Aug. 1. Brooklyn’s district attorney also said that he would scale back prosecutions.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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