Latino Police Officers Endorse Prop. 19, Release Study On Pot Arrests
More Latinos are being arrested for marijuana possession than whites, who are statistically higher users, according to a report compiled by the Drug Policy Alliance.
The report, Arresting Latinos for Marijuana in California: Possession Arrests in 33 Cities, 2006-08, states that “U.S. government surveys consistently find that young Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites. Yet from 2006 through 2008, major cities in California arrested and prosecuted Latinos for marijuana possession at double to nearly triple the rate of whites.”
“Latinos are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, even though they use it at lower rates than whites,” said Sasha Horwitz, new media coordinator for Yes on Prop. 19. “There’s a lot of money and resources lost toward arresting people with marijuana, considering it is much less harmful than alcohol.”
Using the report to persuade Lations to vote in favor of Proposition 19, the National Latino Officers Association (NLOA) held a news conference Wednesday at the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles to publically announce their endorsement for the legalization of marijuana.
According to Daniela Escobar - the media relations/community organizer at the William C. Velasquez Institute - over 20 media outlets were present at the conference, including CNN en Español, Associated Press and other regional outlets.
“Most of the people who attended were from Spanish media outlets, which was ideal considering the subject matter,” Escobar said. “We also had reporters from France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, proving that this is indeed a world issue.”
Escobar also stated that the purpose of the conference was to get the report's findings out to Latino communities.
Many of these arrests are a result of both officers’ individual prejudices and the orders of their superiors.
“Police should focus on violent crimes and not on nonviolent cannabis users," Escobar said. "With these arrests come background checks and prison time. The state should focus more of its money on our education systems and not prisons."
Initially, there were going to be two separate conferences: one to officially announce the NLOA’s endorsement of Yes on Prop. 19 and another to release the study. However, institute representatives said it made sense to combine both announcements.
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