Time for Republicans to Clean Their Ears By RUTH HASSELL-THOMPSON

eHezi Archives 5 Comments

Hassell-ThompsonALBANY, NY — June 13, 2012 – Dean Skelos, the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, tried to be funny when he quipped that proposed legislation targeted to partially respond to illegal stop and frisks would allow people to “walk around with 10 joints in each ear.” However, it was one of those proffered jokes where nobody in the room laughed but Dean Skelos. It is most obvious that the Republican Leadership is not listening to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have been victims of illegal stop and frisks.  In 2011, the NYPD stopped 684,000 individuals. 87% of the people stopped were people of color and nine of every ten were released without any further legal action taken against them. With its nearly-chart topping year in 2011, the NYPD has made more than 100,000 marijuana possession arrests for the last two years; nearly 150,000 marijuana possession arrests in the last three years; and more than 227,000 marijuana possession arrests in the last five years.  One out of every seven arrests in New York City is for marijuana possession comprising 15% of all arrests in NYC.

When  Hakim  Jeffries  and  I first introduced this bill in the State Legislature  in  2009-10,  many legislators  stopped  laughing  when  they realized  the constitutional impact of arbitrary or capricious police stops against  the  citizenry.  Still  other legislators were stunned when Queens College Professor Dr. Harry Levine estimated that New York City spent $50 – $100 million on marijuana arrests in 2010 alone.

In  2010 I  agreed  to  permit  Republican Senator Mark Grisanti to become the primary sponsor of my bill which would make public possession of small  amounts  of marijuana a violation instead of a B misdemeanor.  Under the proposed legislation, the police could still take an offender off the street and lock-up offenders until criminal court arraignment. Thus, the law would still have teeth in its bite.  It was my hope that Senator Grisanti,  could persuade his fellow Republicans to take their heads out of the sand and change the law. Unfortunately, this did not work out well.

Today Governor Cuomo supports the bill, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray  Kelly  supports the bill, all of the city’s district attorneys support the  bill  and  even  Kathleen  Rice, Senator Skelos’ own district attorney supports  the  bill. And as I stated, a Republican Senator is now the prime sponsor.  Scores of organizations support the bill and respected media like the New  York  Times  supports  the bill. This is one of the few pieces of legislation where left wing and right wing have agreed to fly together in the direction of justice.

Come join us Senator Skelos. We would welcome your support. 

Ruth Hassell-Thompson is the Chairwoman of the NYS Senate Democratic Conference, Chairwoman of the Conference of Black Senators, Executive Board Member of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus and one of the leading feminist voices in New York.


eHeziTime for Republicans to Clean Their Ears By RUTH HASSELL-THOMPSON

Comments 5

  1. Freedom is under assault from all angles , and it’s always ” for our safety and security” or ” for our health” Americans are so stupid as to give up more of our rights

  2. This woman is nothing more than an opportunist. Hey Ruth have you looked at the PIT that Mt. Vernon has become ? Do you think that marijuana had a big part in that ? YES IT DID.. instead of letting people off the hook for it, make it a felony like it is in other non liberal states and maybe we can clean up some of these crime ridden cities

  3. These stops are not random, they are conducted based on suspect descriptions that are provided by victims. So if you don’t like the demographics of who are getting stopped, blame the victims. Better yet blame those that are comitting the crimes. Oh, that’s right…………..

  4. The reality is that minorities commit most of the crimes in the city and that is the reason why minorities constitute the majority of stops. I’m a so called minority myself and I have no problem with the police doing this if anything they need to do it more often.

  5. Any statistics available on how many weapons were recovered during these stop and frisks? How many felons removed from the streets as a result if these stop and frisks?

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